WALKER — A project to widen Juban Road between the interstate and Florida Boulevard is receiving mixed reviews from area residents.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development held a public meeting about the $22 million proposal Tuesday afternoon at the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center.
The project would widen to four lanes the stretch of Juban Road north of Interstate 12, from Juban Crossing to Florida Boulevard.
“This portion of Juban Road is one of the main connector roads to I-12 in Livingston Parish, and over the past several years has seen a substantial increase in traffic congestion,” a DOTD environmental assessment report for the project states.
Widening the road would help ease congestion and encourage more economic development, according to the report.
A separate project to extend Juban Road north to Lockhart Road could further those goals as well, “providing the missing piece in what could be considered an inner loop connecting I-12 to Magnolia Bridge via Lockhart Road,” the report states.
The Juban widening project would include three roundabouts: one at Florida Boulevard, one about three-tenths of a mile north of Cassle Road and another halfway between those two.
Juban Road’s open ditches would be replaced with a curb and gutter drainage system and pedestrian/bike paths along each side of the highway.
The design includes a 5-foot concrete median that would prevent left turns onto Juban Road from side streets and residential or commercial driveways.
DOTD has proposed building frontage roads on either side of the middle roundabout to replace driveways that would need to be removed to accommodate the roundabout. Those property owners would access Juban Road via the frontage road to the roundabout, rather than directly exiting onto the highway.
Looking at DOTD’s plans Tuesday afternoon, Ivy Singleton said he thinks the project will improve traffic, which backs up for nearly a mile south of Florida Boulevard during peak hours each afternoon.
Singleton’s property, which lies just west of Juban Road, would be one of those served by the frontage roads.
“Traffic is really terrible now, but I think this is going to help,” Singleton said.
Bobby Leblanc, who lives off nearby Cassle Road, was more cautious in his assessment.
“I want to see the one at Eden Church Road first,” Leblanc said of a roundabout project underway on Florida Boulevard just west of Juban Road. “That one won’t have near as much traffic. Make it work first if you want to make me a believer.”
According to DOTD’s plans for Juban Road, the roundabout at Florida Boulevard would be built first, using federal highway safety dollars, and Florida Boulevard would be widened to four lanes just before and after the new circle.
Building the other two roundabouts on Juban, widening the road and adding bike paths and frontage roads would come during a second phase, funded with state bond money.
Livingston Parish also is working to secure capital outlay funds to build the new sewer system, Parish President Layton Ricks confirmed.
Five businesses and 25 homes likely will need to be relocated for the state to acquire enough right of way for the project, according to the report.
Roughly 9 acres of wetlands and other waters of the U.S. also may be affected.
DOTD will accept public comments on the project through Oct. 23.
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