Construction is set to begin on the long-awaited lighting of La. 22 from Interstate 55 west to the Natalbany River Bridge, which was designed through the parish’s Road Lighting District.

Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess said project specifications call for 5.03 miles of new lighting.

Approximately 64 existing utility poles and 184 new utility poles will be used to install the 248 lights along La. 22.

The project is the first of a three-phase project to complete lighting along state roadways inside the lighting district.

Parish Councilman Bobby Cortez said the three phases of work — lighting areas along La. 22, Pumpkin Center Road and the I-55 Service Road — proved challenging.

Cortez, who represents the District 10 area, said officials were well into the lighting project when state regulations changed.

“To put up lights on a state highway, you have to do a study on it first,” Cortez said, noting that the study “costs a good many thousands of dollars.

Cortez said the new lights will create uniform illumination throughout the roadway.

“State guidelines say you must have the same amount of light all the way through, so the lights are placed where light meets light,” Cortez said.

Tangipahoa Parish’s Director of Finance Jeff McNeely said that was the biggest challenge: making sure the lights are consistent. According to the Department of Transportation and Development, the lights must be of equal distance from the road and between each other, McNeely said. The lights also must put out an equal amount of light.

Entergy will install the new utility poles, move existing overhead power lines to the new poles and install the new lighting, Burgess said.

Entergy will maintain the poles and the district will pay the monthly cost of the lights, McNeely said.

Although a completion date has not been set, Entergy officials say they expect the work could be done in the next 90 days.

“Entergy is extremely excited to be a part of this Road Lighting District project in southwest Tangipahoa Parish,” said Eunice Harris, customer service representative for Entergy’s Louisiana utilities. “It takes the cooperation and expertise of the entire Entergy crew to design and install a Road Lighting District project of this magnitude. Therefore, all hands will be on deck to ensure excellent customer service in a timely manner.”

Buchart Horn Inc. and Andrew Faller Surveying LLC completed the survey work and developed the plan, which was approved by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and permitted right before the Thanksgiving holidays. Buchart Horn is now working on DOTD approval for Pumpkin Center Road.That permit application is expected to be completed in a few months.

The project, which to date has cost about $60,000, McNeely said, is paid for with money received from a millage passed in 2008 exclusively for the Road Lighting District, which nets approximately $315,000 annually, McNeely said.

“The intention (of the 6-mill tax) was to light up the district,” McNeely said, adding that the current project is “by far the largest lighting project I’ve ever seen here.”