Walker — An upcoming road extension will open up about 70 acres of undeveloped land in the expanding Livingston Economic Development Council Industrial Park, the organization’s president has said.
During its most recent meeting, the Walker City Council accepted $1.5 million in federal grant money to pay for the project, which is expected to cost a total of $3.4 million and will replace a gravel path.
Industrial Park Drive, which leads into the site, has only one connection to Florida Boulevard, creating a traffic bottleneck for the companies at the park where over 1,000 people work, said Mayor Rick Ramsey. The traffic jam has gotten so bad a police officer has to direct traffic during afternoon rush hour, he continued.
The new road will create a second entrance and exit to the east, easing some of the pressure. Ramsey hopes to break ground by the fall and expects construction will take six to eight months.
LEDC President Larry Collins said the company, Martin-Brower, is opening a food distribution center in the industrial park some time in mid- to late-2016, and he wants the road extension to be completed first.
The economic council will also have to start clearing some land to make room for new businesses, or for existing companies that want to expand into the areas of the industrial park which will have road access once the Industrial Park Drive extension is complete.
Collins and Ramsey also said the project would make the industrial park safer. A railroad crosses the road, and should a train ever derail or otherwise block the way, workers inside would have trouble getting out with only one exit.
Collins said now that Industrial Park Drive has received funding, local leaders can look toward improving nearby Florida Boulevard.
In addition to the $1.5 million federal grant, the road extension is receiving $1.2 million from Louisiana Economic Development, $400,000 from Livingston Parish, approximately $297,435 from Walker and $111,786 worth of land from LEDC where the road will be built.