The Livingston Parish Council will reconsider the best use of the $1 million it added to the parish’s road overlay program Thursday, after a split vote against dedicating half the money to a Juban Road extension prompted pushback from the community.
Council Chairman Chance Parent, who cast the deciding vote against splitting the money between the two projects, said Tuesday he had received numerous calls from residents who disagreed with the council’s decision to use the full $1 million on the parish’s overlay program.
“People in the community are asking why we’re not purchasing the right of way for the Juban extension,” Parent said. “We need help with traffic. They’re tired of sitting in it. The public is not very happy right now.”
Parent said the pushback was enough to make him reconsider his vote and to call a special meeting Thursday for the council to discuss the issue again.
Councilman Ricky Goff, who has doggedly advocated extending Juban Road north from Florida Boulevard to Lockhart Road, said he hopes the council will reverse course and focus on Juban.
“There are a lot of good projects on the table: Hooper Road extension, Pete’s Highway interchange, Cook Road, the Walker overpass and others,” Goff said, ticking off the long-term projects on many parish officials’ wish lists. “But Juban extension is the one that will give us the most relief for the least amount of money. That’s why I’m so adamant with my fellow council members: We must do this. It is our responsibility.”
Goff has said dedicating money to right-of-way acquisition for Juban is necessary for the appraisals process to move forward and for the project to reach a “shovel-ready” stage.
But rerouting the money could prompt some pushback too.
Parish President Layton Ricks, who is out of town this week, said via text message late Tuesday that he is opposed to dedicating the money to the Juban project and hopes the council instead will complete more overlay work on its priority road list.
“It’s what this money is paid by the people in the parish to be used for,” Ricks said. “That’s what I want to see be done with it and that’s what our citizens are telling us to do with it.”
Ricks said using the money on Juban extension, which he described as a project “that does not exist and that there is no funding for,” would be irresponsible.
“On the other hand, when funding is a real possibility and the parish can afford to do so, I will certainly support it,” Ricks said.
Ricks announced the availability of the extra $1 million in funding, which has been voter-dedicated to road work, late last month. He suggested the council add the money to the $4.47 million in overlay and repair work already being completed across the parish. Which roads on the priority list would receive the extra funds has not yet been decided.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.