DOTD explains options for Range Ave. interchange renovations

DOTD explains options for Range Ave. interchange renovations
Image courtesy DOTD

POSTED: Friday, May 23, 2014 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Friday, May 23, 2014 - 4:04am

Consultants for the state Department of Transportation and Development showed residents their plans Thursday for improving the Range Avenue interchange with Interstate 12.

The project is a response to the growth in western Livingston Parish over the last several years and the growth predicted for the future. As the number of people living in and around Denham Springs has increased, traffic congestion has gotten worse.

"I think a number of people have been waiting for some improvements," said project manager Scott Hoffeld. Hoffeld works for Arcadis US, the firm that is contracted by DOTD to complete the environmental analysis of the project.

DOTD is in the beginning stages of fixing the Range Avenue interchange. It recently completed a feasibility study that presented three possible solutions. One would involve reconfiguring Range Avenue, while the other two would split the interchange so that half the traffic goes through LA 16, also known as Pete's Highway.

All three plans were presented at an open house meeting at Southside Junior High School. Engineers and transportation officials showed residents the alternatives and answered questions.

"Well, there's always concern about effects to private properties," Hoffeld mentioned. "There's concern and questions about how the different alternatives will operate, travel pattern changes and such."

Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin said he favored a plan known as Alternative Two. It includes two ramps connecting I-12 to Pete's Highway, and a road that links to the other two ramps at Range Avenue. Durbin said he likes it because it will improve traffic while having a minimal impact on private property.

"They will not permit a stand-alone interchange at Pete's Highway," he said. "They won't do it. This has to be a connection, or an extension of Range Avenue."

DOTD began the feasibility study in 2012. Thursday's meeting was the unofficial start of the second phase, the environmental impact study.

"We're moving forward," Durbin stated. "And it's something that the council and I in Denham Springs have been working on since 2003. So I am encouraged. And I'm looking at all these people, turned out, this is awesome."

The Range Avenue exit leads to historic downtown Denham Springs, as well as Bass Pro and the future Riverside Landing development.

"It will accommodate the future development, retail and residential development, along Range Avenue, north, south," Durbin said of the improvements. "It's gonna allow that to continue to happen positively."

The environmental study will take approximately a year to complete. After that, funding has to be identified, designs must be finalized, and bids must be received before construction can begin.

"Will we see this by the end of this decade? Possibly," Durbin said. "I'm encouraged."

DOTD is accepting public comments regarding the three proposals from now through June 2.

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