The new four-lane extension of Staring Lane from Highland Road to Burbank Drive opened Thursday morning after two years of construction.

The project marks the 15th completed project of the parish Green Light Plan, a tax-funded road improvements program approved by voters in 2005.

“This is what the Green Light Plan is all about,” Mayor-President Kip Holden said. “Moving projects to construction, opening up congestion in bottleneck areas and getting traffic moving.”

The $16 million construction project that began in February 2009 was officially completed Wednesday.

The new four-lane Staring Lane Extension provides a direct link from Essen Lane/Staring Lane to Burbank Drive.

The project also included a new bridge crossing Bayou Fountain and re-alignment of the Bayou Fountain channel, sewer capacity improvements, sidewalks for pedestrian access in the neighborhood area, new traffic signals with turn lanes at both Burbank Drive and Highland Road, and sound walls along the Highland Creek Subdivision that borders the new extension.

Holden said the road work will provide significant relief for the Burbank Drive, Highland Road and Staring Lane areas.

The Staring Lane Extension will eventually be benefited by another Green Light project that will widen Staring Lane from two to four lanes between Perkins and Highland roads.

That project, under construction, is one of the largest projects under the plan with a budget of more than $43 million and an estimated completion date of September 2013, said Michael Songy, Green Light Plan program director.

Songy said there are eight more road projects under the plan that will be finished by the end of this year.

“Several of those will be finished in the next two months,” he said.

The next project slated for completion, Songy said, is the widening of Jones Creek Road from Coursey Boulevard to South Harrell’s Ferry Road. It provides two through lanes in each direction, sidewalks and a raised median.

The Jones Creek project, when complete and combined with other area projects, will serve to improve north-south traffic from Nicholson Drive to Hooper Road.

Voters in 2005 overwhelmingly agreed to extend the half-cent “pothole tax” for 23 years and dedicate the revenue to the Green Light Plan.

The half-cent sales tax plan is expected to fund 36 improvement, expansion and extension projects designed to alleviate traffic. The 23-year tax was originally estimated to generate $784 million.