LAFAYETTE — The proposed city-parish budget for 2011-12 sets aside money to move forward with several major road projects, including the northward extension of St. Antoine Street, widening Pont des Mouton and extending South College Road over the Vermilion River.
The City-Parish Council on Monday reviewed the proposed projects list for the Department of Public Works for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1.
The project funding will not be formalized until the council adopts the budget in September, but council members raised no objections to the proposals Monday.
Among the major road projects set to begin next year is the extension of St. Antoine Street from Interstate 10 to Pont des Mouton.
The proposed budget includes $2.5 million as the final installment for the $8 million project, which has been in the planning stages for more than 10 years but put off in the past for lack of funding.
Construction should begin next year, Associate Director of Public Works Pat Logan said.
The proposed budget also includes $5.3 million to round out funding for a $25 million project to widen Pont des Mouton Road to four lanes between Interstate 49 and Louisiana Avenue.
Logan said prep work for the widening project should begin next year but work on the actual road could be further off.
Another widening project is planned for Kaliste Saloom Road, bringing the roadway from two lanes to four lanes between Ambassador Caffery Parkway and East Broussard Road.
The proposed budget for 2011-2012 sets aside $4.1 million for the widening project, with projected payments continuing through 2015.
Work is scheduled to begin next year on drainage improvements that are needed before Kaliste Saloom is widened, and Logan said road construction should begin within two years.
One of the largest projects on the drawing board is the long-planned extension of South College Road over the Vermilion River, connecting Kaliste Saloom and Pinhook roads.
The proposed budget for 2011-2012 sets aside $4.5 million for the project, and Logan said that city-parish government plans to start buying land for the road next year.
Logan said the total project is estimated at $50 million, mainly because of the heavy expense of purchasing rights of way in the heart of the city.
Construction of the half-mile stretch, assuming future funding comes through, is expected to begin in about five years, Logan said.
Logan said the project could help reduce the traffic snarls along Pinhook Road, where the number of vehicles crossing the Vermilion River bridge during peak hours sometimes exceed traffic counts on I-10 through Lafayette.
“It’s a mess out there,” he said.
Outside of the major projects to extend and widen roads, the bulk of the budget for work within the city limits is for drainage improvements and routine road maintenance.
In the rural areas of the parish, the proposed budget for sets aside $2.4 million for repairing roads, about $3.9 million in drainage work and $1 million for work related to replacing rural bridges.
Public Works Director Tom Carroll said the focus for the next budget year is on maintenance rather than new construction but that city-parish government is moving forward with some significant projects despite financial constraints.
“Considering the tight economy we are dealing with, I think we have a very aggressive capital program,” Carroll said.
Local government has seen little growth in tax collections while facing rising costs for employee health care and retirement.
The City-Parish Council has been conducting a series of budget hearing this month, reviewing the budget of each department line by line.
A public hearing for citizen input on the budget is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City-Parish Government’s main offices on University Avenue.