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Decades-old highway project revived at City Council meeting

The much discussed and highly anticipated Highway 3241 Project that many believe would bring jobs and a better way of life to the area was the main topic during the public participation segment at Tuesday night’s Bogalusa City Council meeting.

Bogalusa businessman and former auto parts store territory salesman Floyd Burdeaux said he recalled how small towns grew because of access to major highways. He mentioned towns like Independence, Hammond, Ponchatoula, Covington and Mandeville, to name a few.

“If we had our Highway 3241, it would be the best thing that ever happened to Bogalusa,” Burdeaux said. “All those towns I mentioned got built up once they got more roads. If we ever had another hurricane, it would be a good hurricane route.”

We definitely need it.”

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bogalusa is the largest city in the state without access to a four-lane highway.

Burdeaux urged the council and the public to prod their elected state officials in Sen. Ben Nevers and Rep. Harold Ritchie to make Highway 3241 a reality.

Nevers, who represents District 12, said Highway 3241 has been in the works for more than 25 years. The proposed highway project would start at Bush and go to Louisiana Highway 434 near the Heart Hospital in Lacombe. The proposed four-lane highway would be 20 miles in length.

“We’re presently surveying the route, along with wetlands mitigation and other issues that have to be dealt with,” Nevers said by phone Wednesday morning. “Once all that is completed and approved, then purchase of the right of ways will take place. The design of the project will be under way. While the highway is being designed, I would like to see it added as a design bill project in order to shorten the time frame.”

According to a recent meeting with Department of Transportation and Development officials, Nevers said work on the project is expected to begin within three years.

Nevers said the highway project is being funded through the TIME Program, a 4-cent gasoline tax citizens have been paying for more than 20 years.

“This project is way overdue from my perspective,” Nevers said.

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said Nevers was vital in getting the highway project pushed through.

“This highway project is more important than a reservoir,” Perrette said in reference to the Washington Parish Reservoir Project. “I’m not for the reservoir. I’d rather see a highway.”

In business matters, the City Council accepted a resolution to repeal and replace Ordinances 2170 and 2171. Ordinance 2170 is about adults driving while intoxicated, while 2170 is about drivers under 21 charged with underage drinking. Ordinance 2170 is to reflect the state statute change regarding penalizing adult DWIs. Ordinance 2171 increased penalties for underage drivers charged with DWIs.

The Council accepted amending Bogalusa’s Municipal Criminal Code regarding theft. The new ordinance increases misdemeanor theft from $500 to $750.

An ordinance authorizing a professional agreement with for a Historical Survey between the City of Bogalusa and Cypress Building Conservation was tabled. Councilman at-large Doug Ritchie moved to table the ordinance because some language in the ordinance needed changing.

Also, a resolution to support preparation and submittal of an application for funding through the Division of Administration Community Water Enrichment Fund was accepted. A requirement for the application for funding under the program requires a resolution of support from the municipal governing body. The grant is for $50,000.

A resolution for a traffic feasibility study regarding Louisiana Highway 10 and Cumberland Street was accepted.

The City Council accepted a resolution between the city and the Department of Transportation and Development to stripe 38 local city streets and roads. This was an old grant from 2009 that DOTD just approved. The DOTD has provided $259,000. Bogalusa’s portion to pay is $11,000.

Council members accepted a resolution to agree to the terms of the Transportation Alternative Program. The City Council passed the resolution to accept the grant if the city can match it. The grant would be for a walking path crossing the Cumberland Street Bridge. The project is called the Shared-Use Path Crossing.

The City Council accepted a resolution supporting an application to the Louisiana Historical Marker Program commemorating the memory of Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies O’Neal Moore and officer David “Creed” Rogers, who were ambushed on June 2, 1965. Moore died while Rogers was wounded.

Perrette recognized Bogalusa Main Street Program Manager Robin Day. The Bogalusa Main Street Program recently won the Main Street Award at the 2015 Louisiana Culture Awards. Day will be recognized at an awards ceremony on April 14 at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. Bogalusa won over 36 other cities.

“She has been an example and raised the bar,” Perrette said referring to Day. “I feel like she has gone over and beyond.”

Perrette also recognized Northshore Technical Community College YouthBuild Program member and Bogalusa resident Stephen Morris. He recently represented the program in Washington, D.C., on the Council of Young Leaders.

“I am extremely proud of this young man for continuing his education and for his accomplishment, not only on the local level, but on a national level,” Perrette said.