DOTD to the rescue: state agency agrees to fund ‘snake-bit’ roundabout project in Prairieville _lowres


A seemingly snake-bit roundabout eyed in Prairieville for more than six years has received a new lease on life.

State highway officials committed to foot the entire bill for the $1.96 million roundabout at Parker Road and La. 929, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez told the Parish Council on Thursday.

The parish was originally awarded a $500,000 safety grant from the state Department of Transportation and Development for the roundabout in 2009 as studies then showed the intersection had the worst crash rating of any intersection in the parish.

The Parish Council had agreed to cover the remaining cost of the future roundabout, but it goes over three large underground pipelines. Dealing with them, among other factors, ballooned the cost from nearly $700,000 to $2.4 million, parish officials said several years ago.

Martinez told the council in Donaldsonville he is thankful for DOTD’s assistance to allow the project to happen.

“A lot of times, we beat up on them, but they do help us when they possibly can, and this is just an example,” Martinez said.

Councilman Chris Loar, who represents the area where the roundabout will be built, noted the past issues with pipelines and that a future public high school is planned nearby.

“This will be great for the citizens of this parish,” Loar said.

Modern roundabouts move traffic through a circular route without traffic lights, allowing a continuous flow of vehicles. They are said to be safer than typical intersections.

In other action, the Parish Council gave an early, important nod to a special industrial zoning overlay for 17,000 acres of primarily agricultural land on Ascension’s west bank.

Envisioned as a master-planned area for a new industrial complex along the Mississippi River, the overlay sets the stage for future rezonings to accommodate primarily heavy industry with buffers for existing homes.

On Thursday, the 11-member council voted 8-0 to support the recommendation of the Parish Zoning Commission to approve the overlay language and an accompanying zoning map. The council still has to adopt ordinances to make the overlay final.

Councilmen Travis Turner and Dempsey Lambert were absent. Council Chairman Randy Clouatre does not vote unless to break a tie.

Last month, school officials asked the Zoning Commission for a buffer on the area’s southern edge to protect elementary and middle schools in Donaldsonville.

Officials then promised to address that concern, but, at this stage in the council’s review, parish officials said those details are still being worked out.

The industrial area also is being studied to see if it is actually feasible as far as river access and infrastructure.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.