DOTD celebrates groundbreaking of major Arkansas Road project in Ouachita Parish
Wednesday, September 06, 2017 at 5:13:29 PM
West Monroe, La. - Today, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson, along with Governor John Bel Edwards, marked the beginning of a major project to improve LA 616 (Arkansas Road) with a groundbreaking ceremony in West Monroe, Ouachita Parish.

“Under a Governor who has been focused on moving these types of projects forward to delivery, we were able to refocus capital outlay money to build infrastructure and that’s the type of long-term investment we’re celebrating today,” said Sec. Wilson.

This nearly $33 million dollar project will vastly increase the traffic capacity through the area, as well as completely rehabilitate the roadway.

“Gathering together to celebrate today’s groundbreaking on Arkansas Road signifies the importance of prioritizing transportation infrastructure as critical to the future of our state’s economy,” said Gov. Edwards. “In order to remain economically competitive as a state, properly maintaining and improving our infrastructure must be placed at the top of our priority list. I am pleased that DOTD is consistently working to get the priorities right.”

A consultant work order was first issued in 1981. However, actual construction of the project has been delayed throughout the years due to changes in policy, scope and limited funding.

“Arkansas Road will eventually be five lanes and it’s going to be incredible,” said Sen. Mike Walsworth (District 33). “I think West Monroe and West Ouachita Parish will truly benefit from this project.”

A little over three miles of Arkansas Road from LA 143 (N. 7th Street) to Caldwell Road will be widened from two to four lanes, including a continuous turn lane over the next three years.

Additionally, pedestrians will enjoy sidewalks added to both sides of the road from North 7th Street to Wallace Dean Road, which is nearly the full length of the project.

“Investment in our infrastructure is vitally important, and we’re proud to be able to get this project off the ground,” said Mayor Dave Norris. “This type of investment is crucial for quality-of-life, not only in West Monroe, but all across the state as well.”

The project, awarded in December 2016 to Gilchrist Construction Co., will also replace four signalized intersections with roundabouts.

These roundabouts will greatly improve the efficiency of traffic movement through this section of Arkansas Road, which sees more than 18,000 vehicles pass through every day.

Roundabouts have also been proven to have a measurable impact on the safety of the traveling public by redirecting some of the conflicting traffic, such as left turns. These can cause crashes at traditional intersections.

“This project is not only important to me politically, but it’s also important to me personally,” said Rep. Frank Hoffmann (District 15). “I drive on Arkansas Road more than I drive on any other road in West Monroe, so this is an exciting project for the area.”

Anticipated completion for the entire project is Spring 2020, with progress dependent on weather conditions.