Denham Springs — The City Council of Denham Springs is expecting to spend $1 million on road construction in the coming year.
Meanwhile, a Department of Transportation and Development study of traffic around the city has stalled, but the mayor recently shared new insights into the long-anticipated project that could connect Pete’s Highway to Interstate 12.
DOTD had expected to release new information by this spring on the traffic study and the possible interchange, but department spokeswoman Bambi Hall said teams need more time to factor in all the new businesses and other developments in the area.
In the past week alone, the city announced the construction of a new 44,000-square-foot, four-story mixed-use building at the corner of South Range Avenue and Bass Pro Boulevard, which will house an unnamed “international movie studio” in the top floor. Restaurants or shops will occupy the ground level with spaces for more offices in between.
“This will be a landmark building for Denham Springs,” said real estate agent Joe Moore.
But the new construction also means city officials may have to wait until the beginning of next year to find out the results of DOTD’s two traffic studies, causing frustration.
“They do study it to death,” Mayor Gerard Landry said. “How much longer are you going to study this thing?”
Neither Hall nor Landry could guess what the general traffic study might recommend. However, the mayor said Thursday that a frontrunner has appeared in the discussion about possibly connecting Pete’s Highway to the interstate.
The “most logical proposal” at the moment appears to call for a combined highway exit with South Range Avenue that would connect via an access road like those around the Mall of Louisiana. But he emphasized that the plan could change and “depends on what engineer you talk to.”
The state also is preparing to begin resurfacing South Range Avenue between Vincent Road and Florida Avenue, a project which Landry said will likely begin by summer’s end and run through the end of the year with crews mostly working at night.
The city’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016 includes $1.1 million in road projects, up 43 percent from the year before. The majority of the money will go to widen and repave Maple Street, which runs behind Denham Springs High to connect with Hatchell Lane and Julia Street, which links River Road with the intersection of Florida Avenue and South Range Avenue.
Neither project will add new lanes, but they will widen the streets to 21 feet, a safety precaution that is especially important for teenage drivers near the high school, Landry said.
The state will reimburse the city for 80 percent of the cost of each project, Financial Director Michelle Hood said.
The city also is spending about $79,000 to pay for engineering fees to prepare to repave Martin Luther King Jr. Road, also known as Rodeo Drive. However, the overlay is not expected to begin until fiscal year 2017, Landry said. That year, the mayor hopes the city will be able to continue repaving River Road between Centerville Street and Range Avenue.