Conway Plantation developers say they will build additional traffic lane to I-10 to ease Gonzales traffic _lowres


A new development coming to Gonzales that’s getting a generally positive reception scored more points Tuesday with the news developers also will be building an additional traffic lane to nearby Interstate 10.

Traffic was one of the concerns mentioned more than once Tuesday night at a meeting held by the city as a chance for residents to get firsthand information from the developers of Conway Plantation, a mixed-used community planned on 344 acres on La. 44, just south of the interstate.

“I think people in the area are very encouraged because of your history and track record,” resident Theresa Robert told Robert Daigle, managing partner of Lafayette-based Southern Lifestyle Development, which has developed or is developing several such communities in the state.

But, she said, she is concerned about traffic on La. 44 with the coming of the new development and urged them to encourage representatives of the state Department of Transportation and Development to meet with residents.

Prescott Bailey, area president for Southern Lifestyle Development, said the company will be building a two-lane roundabout — which he said is DOTD’s preferred method of access onto state highways in such situations — at Conway Planation’s main entrance on La. 44.

The state highway is a heavily traveled road to and from the plants along the river.

Then, Bailey said, the company also will be building another northbound lane, on its property along La. 44, to the interstate.

“So there will be two northbound lanes” to I-10, he said.

Lafayette-based Southern Lifestyle Development announced its plans earlier this year to develop the mixed-used community on property once used by rancher Merrit P. Evans Jr. for a cattle farm. The new community will include a traditional neighborhood development with shops and parks, traditional homes and luxury apartments.

The company has the property under contract and plans to purchase it from the heirs of the rancher for $8 million this spring, Bailey said.

The property where Conway Plantation is planned was annexed into Gonzales in 2012. In 2011, the Ascension Parish School Board purchased 63 acres of the former ranch for $1.5 million as the site of a future high school.

Children who will one day be living in Conway Plantation would be in the school districts of Pecan Grove Primary, Gonzales Middle School and East Ascension High School, according to information provided by the developers at Tuesday’s meeting.

Gonzales resident Bill Prestridge asked the developers how many single-family homes there would be in Conway Plantation and how that would affect the student population of Pecan Grove Primary.

Bailey said there would be 951 single-family homes, built over the next decade.

Daigle also noted that, among those 951 homes, there will be smaller, cottage-style homes and other designs that will appeal to singles and retirees without school-age children.

Gonzales City Councilman Terance Irvin asked Daigle how Southern Lifestyle Development chose the locations for its communities.

Daigle named three things it looks for in site location: a good traffic count to sustain the businesses in the development; the chance for the development to be the first of its kind in the area; and a quality school system.

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.