BAKER — The city is considering accepting the transfer of Lavey Lane from the Department of Transportation and Development despite problems with the road that could cost as much as $3 million to fix, Mayor Darnell Waites told the City Council Tuesday night.
Currently, DOTD is responsible for maintenance of Lavey Lane, all of which is located within Baker; however, if the transfer goes through, the city would have to take care of the road.
Lavey Lane is less than 3 miles long and was last resurfaced in 1992, said Baker Public Works Director Kelvin Ridgely.
“If we accept this transfer, it’s like buying something from 1992,” Ridgely said. “We have to assume there will be problems.”
The road also runs over a concrete bridge built in 1957 that would be included in the transfer.
If the city waits for the DOTD to improve the road, the reapris would likely take three years, but if Baker takes it over, the process could be sped up to 18 months, Waites said.
“People act like I don’t drive on Lavey Lane," he said. "I know it’s not safe. I know it needs to be fixed. I had the buses stop running on it and I tell people not to walk on it, but we have houses on that road.”
Waites added that DOTD estimates fixing the road would cost $1.2 million, without sidewalks or base work. The city’s own estimate is closer to $3 million. The exact figure won’t be known until engineers assess the base underneath the top layer of the street.
Building sidewalks on the street would be problematic because it would mean filling in the ditches, which could cause flooding to houses along it.
Even with all the problems, the importance of the street to the city makes it worth pursuing the transfer, if enough funding can be secured from the state, Waites said.
DOTD is seeking to transfer many roads to local control, with the agreement that DOTD will pay to bring them close to like-new condition.
Councilman Pete Heine said he envisions "Lavey Lane as being a main thoroughfare from Highway 19 through the city in the future, even more than Groom Road.”
Waites agreed, noting Lavey Lane runs near the BREC Baton Rouge Zoo and a park BREC plans to build near the zoo.
In other business, Baker School System Superintendent Herman Brister gave the council an update on the rebuilding of Baker High, which was damaged in the historic flooding of 2016.
Since then, the high school students have been attending classes at Baker Middle School. Middle school students occupy Bakerfield Elementary’s campus and Bakerfield and Baker Heights students share the Baker Heights campus.
The school system was approached by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the offer of loans totaling $15 million, which was more than the $10 million loan approved by the private sector, Brister said.
The school system is also receiving a grant of $7 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rebuild the school and buy furniture and other items for it.
The council also heard from Councilwoman Glenda Bryant that the city’s community garden near the fire station will be renamed Ginger’s Garden for the late Ginger Vann, a longtime city employee who died Feb. 1 and that Baker’s first Mardi Gras parade will begin 10 a.m. Saturday at McDonald’s on La. 19 and end at Advantage Charter School.