DOTD Breaks Ground on LA Hwy 42 Widening Project
Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 4:33:37 PM
PRAIRIEVILLE, La. – Today, Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson was joined by Governor John Bel Edwards and other state and local officials to celebrate the beginning of construction to widen La. Hwy. 42 in Ascension Parish. The ceremony was held at Istrouma Baptist Church, located in Prairieville.

“Ascension Parish is experiencing an enormous amount of economic and population growth, making it one of the fastest growing parishes in the state, which is why it is very important to make certain that our roads can keep up with the increased demands,” said Governor Edwards. “This has been one of the most talked about roads in Ascension and in the state, and thanks to the great partnerships between the state and local governments we were finally able to break ground on this project.”

This project, which stretches 3.7 miles between U.S. 61 (Airline Highway) and LA 44 (N. Burnside Ave.), will increase traffic capacity by widening the highway from two to four lanes. Additionally, there will also be an 18-foot wide raised grass median between the east and westbound roadways, as well as multiple J-turns to assist larger vehicles with making U-turns throughout the project limits.

In order to meet the needs of pedestrians along this busy corridor, there will be a 6-foot sidewalk constructed on the north side of the roadway and a 10-foot bicycle/ pedestrian shared use path on the south side.

“We are excited about this because several years ago the state converted to a complete streets policy for all of our passenger programs where we evaluate projects to incorporate something that will work in the active transportation world and be a lot more accommodating for pedestrians as well as vehicles,” said Secretary Wilson. “The 10-foot bicycle and pedestrian path is going to allow citizens to have a much more active lifestyle, and I think that is a big part of what infrastructure should be.”

Due to the booming population in Ascension Parish, this widening was necessary in order to meet the needs of residents and motorists. Currently more than 24,000 motorists travel this highly populated section of La. 42 daily. The number of motorists is expected to increase to 37,500 by 2034.

“Improvements to Highway 42 have been in the works for a long time, and now – thanks to cooperation between Ascension Parish, DOTD, our state delegation, and our federal representatives, and in memory of all those who lost their lives here – we are fulfilling the promise to our people of a safer roadway that also moves traffic more efficiently,” said Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa.

"I am excited to see the Highway 42 project finally moving forward. It will make a positive impact on the traffic in Ascension Parish, in particular the Galvez area. We know it will mean putting up with congestion for a while, but we all look forward to its completion,” said Representative Tony Bacala.

Since Governor Edwards took office in January 2016, his administration has made transportation and infrastructure a priority by investing more than $1.2 billion for more than 600 projects that have been bid statewide since the beginning of 2016.

The roadway improvements along La. 42 are vital to residents of Ascension Parish, as well as East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Tangipahoa Parishes because it provides access to major highways and the interstate system such as U.S. 61 (Airline Hwy.), I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and I-12 between Baton Rouge and Slidell. It also supports access to one commercial airport-Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport- and two general aviation airports- the Louisiana Regional Airport in Gonzales and the Hammond Municipal Airport in Hammond.

“This is our number one priority for the parish. So many lives have been lost. It has touched our community for many, many years, so it really is a great day in Ascension Parish. Success for the state of Louisiana depends on a good transportation system. This has been a team effort and we are very proud to have this day finally happen and to have this project finally happen. It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind project for the state of Louisiana. You can go throughout the state, you’re not going to find a four lane divided highway with a bicycle and walk path on one side and a pedestrian path on the other,” said Representative Johnny Berthelot.

This project is especially important to many residents in the area who have been impacted or lost loved ones by wrecks caused on this roadway. In August 1994, three youths were in a head on collision along a curve on La. 42. This wreck caused the deaths of Mandy Acosta, 18, Brett Leggette, 13, and Brett Frederic, 13. Their mothers have remained strong supporters of the improvements for the past 23 years.

“I was standing here in this parking lot 23 years, three months and 10 days ago when I received the tragic news of their deaths on this deadly highway, in the exact same spot today my dream becomes a reality. I don’t think anyone really has a clue what this means to me; my heart is full. When this road is broken I will be able to look up in the heavens and say Mandy we did it, yours, Brett and Brett’s deaths were not in vain,” said Mandy Acosta’s mother Loretta Templet.

This two-phase project was a joint effort between Ascension Parish and DOTD. In order for DOTD to begin construction on the $27.48 million widening project, clearing, grubbing and utility relocation was needed. The new sewer system was completed in May 2016. It spans across the entire length of the project. Road construction by Barber Brothers Construction Co. began on November 27, 2017, and is anticipated to be completed by spring 2020.

“I have seen the plans. I have seen it developed and it appears it is going to be a really top quality project,” said Senator Eddie Lambert. “It is going to bring Ascension into the future with its sidewalks and bike paths. We have now run a new sewer that is underground here. That only happened with the help of numerous people. We have had complete support from everybody. This has truly been a real team effort. This is a great day for Ascension, and we are really lucky.”

Representative Clay Schexnayder said, “This wasn’t a project that only a few people brought to the front, this was a project that the community brought to the front. I thank each and every one for keeping this in sight as a goal that could be accomplished. This is a project that is going to make a difference in Ascension Parish and you won’t see another one like this.”