Carmel Drive would get new sidewalks, a north Lafayette recreation center would get a new parking lot and planning would begin for a large pedestrian bridge over Evangeline Thruway under budget amendments being pushed by city-parish Council Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux.
In all, Boudreaux has proposed adding more than $1 million to next year’s budget, which the council is scheduled to approve at a special meeting Thursday.
Much of the money is set aside for new infrastructure in Boudreaux’s north Lafayette district.
“I have to be prudent in my representation and make sure we are not getting left behind,” Boudreaux said Wednesday. “These things have been on the radar for some time.”
So far, none of his fellow councilmen has raised any objections, meaning the amendments will likely coast through Thursday’s budget session intact.
City-Parish President Joey Durel said he is concerned about the additions to his administration’s proposed spending plan for next year but will wait to see what makes it through the budget process before considering a veto.
“I understand there are election year politics at play, but we still have to take a responsible approach to the budget, because we still have to deal with realities after the election,” Durel wrote in an email. “At a time when our future tax collections are so uncertain, I’m hopeful that the council will act responsibly.”
The proposed project with the biggest long-term impact and expense is a pedestrian bridge that would cross Evangeline Thruway near its intersection with Interstate 10, spanning one side of the road before touching down at the Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission Welcome Center and then rising again to cross the other half of the divided four-lane.
Boudreaux added $55,000 to next year’s budget for planning and design plus another $4 million in city-parish government’s multiyear construction budget — $2 million in 2016 and another $2 million in 2017.
The total project would likely cost well over $4 million, and Boudreaux said officials will seek state and federal funds for what he sees as a badly needed safe route for the bicyclists and walkers who now dodge and weave through traffic to cross the road.
“There is a lot of crossover pedestrian traffic there,” Boudreaux said.
The councilman also said he envisions the pedestrian bridge serving as an attractive gateway for the city.
“We are looking for it to be a significant art piece that would hopefully connect with art parks at either end,” he said.
Boudreaux’s proposed budget amendments add $900,000 for three other north Lafayette projects: $300,000 to help complete a crime scene lab next to the next Precinct Four police substation, $300,000 to resurface the cracked and potholed parking at the George Dupuis Recreation Center on Pont des Mouton Road and $300,000 for new sidewalks along Carmel Drive between Louisiana Avenue and Pinhook Road.
There are some sidewalks on Carmel, but Boudreaux said several gaps need to be filled.
“There is tremendous foot traffic there where they have created paths,” he said.
Outside of infrastructure projects, Boudreaux has proposed allocating $100,000 a year over three years to the newly formed North Lafayette Redevelopment Authority, an agency that, among other things, is tasked with addressing blighted and abandoned property.
The funding is contingent on the agency securing matching dollars from the state.
Even though Boudreaux’s proposed budget additions come with a hefty price tag, the councilman said the changes would not affect the bottom line because he was able to piece together funding from other budgeted projects that are either not moving forward or are not as expensive as originally thought.
“All my items use already existing funds,” he said.