Bids for the final phase of the notoriously delayed Kaliste Saloom Road expansion project are due March 28, and not a day too soon for frustrated nearby residents who were initially told the project would be complete in 2016.
Completion is now expected in the summer of 2022, with the final 1.4-mile stretch between Grand Point Boulevard to West Farrel Road comprising the largest portion. The total project cost has ballooned from $29 million to nearly $42 million over the past decade.
The budget for the final segment is $15.5 million, and Mayor-President Joel Robideaux’s administration plans to cover that with a bond issue.
Residents such as Jerry Greig want the city-parish to move more quickly.
“Intuitively this doesn’t make sense,” Greig said at a community meeting Wednesday night, the latest in a series he has organized to hear from city-parish officials on the project.
Greig presented a comparison showing the Verot School Road project will be completed twice as quickly as the final phase of Kaliste Saloom, on a mile-per-year basis.
Public Works Director Mark Dubroc, while acknowledging the frustrations, said the state Department of Transportation and Development had the luxury — the money — to bid that project at a faster rate than what Lafayette Consolidated Government can do with Kaliste Saloom.
“Verot is the DOTD world,” Dubroc said. “Kaliste Saloom is the LCG world.”
Dubroc said a $4 million increase in the project budget could reduce the length of time by about 30 percent. He also said he’s hopeful that bids will come in under budget. Asked if a favorable low bid could free up money to speed up the project, Dubroc said it’s doubtful — but he didn’t rule it out.
“We are investigating that, if there are loopholes in what we can do,” Dubroc said.