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Highway Planning Process: Public Gets a Turn

January 25, 2012

When it comes to extending Highway 3132 to the Port of Shreveport-Bossier, the public opinion clearly favored a route.

Well over 100 people participated a meeting at LSUS Shreveport to seek public input regarding routes proposed for Louisiana Highway 3132. The company chosen by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to lead the meeting was the engineering firm Buchart Horn, Inc., a York, Penn., company with an office in Baton Rouge and, reportedly with close ties to DOTD. In fact, the gentleman delivering the welcome proudly told the crowd that he had worked with DOTD. He was complimentary of the road system in Shreveport prior before he turned the meeting over to a younger staffer.

The staffer who detailed the process reviewed the myriad of steps in the process to become a highway. Unfortunately, the PowerPoint slide were verbiage-heavy and created with type that was too small and too light for the massive ballroom where the function was held.

The process for the evening was heralded as having won an award from a planning organization, but it met with mixed reviews from attendees, many of whom felt it was designed to discourage individuals from commenting and that it was childish. Here’s how it worked. Attendees were given numbers and the crowd was divided by these numbers into 15 tables. Each was given a laminated map and indelible pen with which to draw a preferred route. Showing a lack of attention to detail, the map was covered with pictures of football players, including one image placed over the current terminus of 3132. (This was apparently done in deference to the city’s naming of 3132 the “Terry Bradshaw Passway,” something that was absolutely irrelevant to the task at hand.)

Many of the people attending brought with them copies of the route preferred by the Finish 3132 Coalition and posted on our website. A moderator from each group presented the group’s route. Ultimately the maps drawn by all groups were similar to the Coalition’s recommended route. The groups clearly indicated that they felt that the “no-build” option (a federal requirement in the planning process) was not acceptable.
One presenter indicated a person in the group, a resident of Twelve Oaks, wanted the highway to stop. Another group presenter indicated concern about crawfish ponds. Several others voices concerns about railroad crossings, and one suggested the possibility of an elevated crossing of the railroad tracks along Highway 1. Several indicated their support for a truck route to the Port of Shreveport-Bossier.

Public comment of three minutes was allowed following the map presentations. Elliott Stonecipher, speaking on behalf of the Coalition, reiterated that the process that the group was undertaking tonight had been done previously but no road had been built. He was cut off due to time and the crowd voiced a request to allow him to continue, which the moderator would not do. Questions and comments included information on what the next step would be, when this stage would be completed (March or April of this year), why Stonecipher could not continue (not a hearing but a meeting), and issues with trucks and the business constituency at the Port. Port’s executive director Eric England took a few minutes to remind the crowd of the port’s resolution in support of the completion of Highway 3132. Tim Larkin’s, developer of the Esplanade subdivision of luxury homes to the southwest of the terminus, indicated he wanted to put the past behind and not focus on it. However, he was reminded that the history of the project is important to assure our grandchildren aren’t here when they are our age, talking about the same issues. Stonecipher indicated that there is history from which we can learn and reinforced that initial information provided by NLCOG has been enlightening. (John Settle has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Coalition to seek the information that has not been provided.)

The idea of the loop around the city was first mentioned in 1969 and the first document given to the Coalition was from 1973 (referencing the 1969 study). The Inner Loop Extension Study of 1992 was yet another study. And still land was not protected and the extension was never completed.

The public has until Jan. 31 to submit any written comments to the consulting firm at the following address: Buchart Horn, Inc., 18163 E Petroleum Drive, Ste A, Baton Rouge LA 70809. Click here to download the comment form and the Coalition’s preferred route.

Video Updates

May 27, 2014
Elliott Stonecipher, spokesperson for the Finish 3132 Coalition, offers an update on the project.
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