Five projects in the city-parish’s road-construction plan — including two new stretches connecting busy thoroughfares — are expected to start sooner than previously thought after the Metro Council on Wednesday approved a refinancing proposal by Mayor-President Kip Holden.
The road improvements are part of the city-parish Green Light Plan for which voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 2005. The Metro Council voted unanimously Wednesday to refinance bonds at a lower interest rate, which is expected to generate an extra $40 million for the projects.
Many of the proposed changes to the five roads had been stalled because of a lack of funding sources. Green Light projects usually combine local sales tax money with federal and state grants — which have been absent for these five projects — to complete the roadways.
Changes will come first to O’Neal Lane, which is slated for construction later this year. Workers will add two more lanes and sidewalks from South Harrell’s Ferry Road to George O’Neal Road. The construction will extend recent improvements on O’Neal Lane south of Interstate 12 to South Harrell’s Ferry Road.
Glen Oaks Drive will see changes in 2017, when construction will begin to transform the road from its two-lane model from Plank Road to McClelland Drive to a three-lane roadway with sidewalks and bike paths.
Construction on Nicholson Drive from Brightside Drive to Gourrier Avenue is expected to begin in 2019, but the final design has not been determined yet. The improvements are expected to give drivers better access into and out of the LSU campus and the downtown area.
It is too early to determine when work will begin on the Highland-Burbank Connector and Jones Creek Road projects, which both have only conceptual design studies right now.
The Highland-Burbank Connector will hook up the two roads in a new location for which Seyburn Drive and Kenilworth Parkway are being considered. Councilman John Delgado said many people in his district are interested in the Highland-Burbank connector because Highland Road is already congested but people continue to move into the area.
“We’ve been discussing this a long time,” he said.
The Jones Creek Road changes would extend the existing project on Jones Creek Road from Tiger Bend Road to Coursey Boulevard and then south to Jefferson Highway. The four-lane road would include a raised median, sidewalks and a new bridge crossing Claycut Bayou. It is expected to add a better connection from Jefferson Highway to Hooper Road.
It is unclear how long construction will last on all of the projects until construction companies bid on them.
Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.