YOUNGSVILLE — City Council members went into Monday night discussing whether to file a lawsuit against the engineering company that designed and oversaw some repair work on Youngsville’s problematic Phase One section of Chemin Metairie Parkway, a 7-year-old two-lane that again is under repair.
The five-member council began its closed-door executive session at 6 p.m. By 8:30 p.m., they were still in discussions.
Mayor Ken Ritter, who is in his first year at the executive helm, did not return a message to The Acadiana Advocate on the council’s decision.
Officials in Youngsville, among Louisiana’s fastest-growing cities, have for a few years discussed what to do with Chemin Metairie Phase One. The 2.6-mile section runs from the traffic circle at La. 92 to the circle at La. 89. The two-lane cuts through some of the highest-value land in Lafayette Parish, past Sugar Mill Pond and the Youngsville Sports Complex.
But it’s been a headache for Youngsville, its residents and Fenstermaker almost since it opened in 2008, with sections of the road sinking and workers trying to get ahead of the subsidence. It also has been the subject of lively, heated, what-to-do questions and whom-do-we-blame dialogue at open council meetings.
Former Mayor Wilson Viator, who was mayor when Phase One was built, attended the meeting Monday but left before the council reached its decision.
Fenstermaker, a generations-old Lafayette engineering company with a national reach, has borne the brunt of criticism over the Phase One section of Chemin Metairie.
Fenstermaker engineer Dax Douet has defended his company’s design and build-out of the road. Douet, who acted as Youngsville city engineer until late 2014, has said that when construction started in the mid-2000s, city officials, including then-Mayor Viator, agreed to go ahead with the project even though there wasn’t enough money. Instead of a 9-inch-thick asphalt road that would have cost $12 million, which engineers called for, Youngsville built a road 4 inches thick for $7 million.
When it came time to build Phase Two of the road, a two-mile section that runs from La. 89 to Viaulet Road, Youngsville had $12 million and the benefit of the experience. Phase Two, completed in spring 2013, was laid with 10 inches of concrete and has posed no problems.