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Very little revealed at NLCOG Meeting

March 15, 2012

The public wants to know two things about the extension of 3132: where and when. Today’s meeting of the MPO Transportation Planning Committee of the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments revealed neither.

Two items of interest were revealed, the awarding of the Stage 1 study and the submission of the Stage 0 study to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Jacob Loeske from the consulting group Buchart Horn, Inc. reported that the Stage 0 feasibility study had been submitted yesterday to the DOTD at its state headquarters in Baton Rouge. Loeske said that it usually takes about a month to hear back from DOTD. The information in the study followed DOTD guidelines and included the three proposed alternate routes.

Loeske said that a second public information meeting is planned next month but that no date or venue has been selected. He clarified that no public comments will be taken at that meeting; instead, the routes will be presented. Kent Rogers, NLCOG executive director, indicated that NLCOG will hold at least three meetings where public comments will be heard.

Upon a motion from Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, the group voted to accept the proposal of the engineering firm Burk-Kleinpeter for the Stage 1 study for 3132. The mayor commended Rogers for requiring vendors that met the “fair share” program and indicated that although all of the presenters had good presentations and were competent, Burk-Kleinpeter had the highest rating.

During public comments, Finish 3132 Coalition Spokesperson Elliott Stonecipher and Esplanade Developer sparred about control-of-access points on East Flournoy Lucas Road. Stonecipher noted that the Finish 3132 Coalition has done extensive research and is confused about the invocation of control of access by DOTD on Flournoy Lucas. “Why is there any need to invoke control-of-access and immediately begin building an interchange for Larkin’s Esplanade development when the feasibility study is two years out?” he said, and “why in the world would we build an entrance for a private developer?”

DOTD appears to be moving forward with the construction of the access roads to accommodate an extension of 3132 to the south and to give Larkin an entrance/exit to his property. The $2 million project would require property from The Glen Retirement System which is adjacent to Larkin’s development.

“If we have a no-build route or one that does not move south from Flournoy Lucas, there would be no need for The Glen’s property,” Stonecipher said, noting that surveys are underway for new access roads that have not been requested by the other landowners. Noting that the construction is premature, he said “this is not justified or necessary until we find out what the route is, if a real route is announced. If the route does not proceed south from Flournoy Lucas, there is no need to spend public money…this is thoroughly confusing, so help us clarify the obvious contradiction.”

Larkin, who frequently says the situation is a “misunderstanding,” again repeated that phrase. He said that the discussion should be about two things: the 3132 extension and control of access to Flournoy Lucas Road. He noted that Twelve Oaks owners were advised last March that DOTD would extend control of access in all four quadrants, and that control of access would be extended across the northwest quadrant and across Twelve Oaks. “When they (DOTD) do that, they will extend control of access across properties owned by Larkin Development,” he said. He further said he understands that DOTD intends to move access roads to a new interchange and that “Willis-Knighton will be among the beneficiaries of the relocation.” (Willis-Knighton owns and is developing The Oaks of Louisiana on property to the east of 3132 and also owns property on the west side of 3132.)

Attorney Jim McMichael, speaking on behalf of Willis-Knighton Health System reiterated the health system’s position announced at an earlier NLCOG meeting. He said that Willis-Knighton does not perceive any benefits from the invocation of control of access or the construction of the planned new access roads. He indicated that WKHS is opposed to the use of public funds for the construction of the intersection stating, “Willis-Knighton will oppose it at every turn.”

Vernon Hastings, public activist, indicated that he was at the meeting “representing myself and the people who work and can’t get over here.” He indicated that the right thing to do is to extend 3132 and he urged the members of the committee to “do the right thing.”

John Settle, attorney for Finish 3132 coalition, commented to the board that on March 7 he sent a letter to NLCOG counsel Jerry Jones requesting deposition dates for various members of NLCOG.

The entire process of vetting highways is complex but Rogers said it was necessary in order to assure the project was eligible for state and federal funding. Glover asked Rogers if he could provide a “Reader’s Digest version” of how it works and Rogers agreed to do so at a future meeting.

In other business, the committee elected new officers, with the tradition of alternating the chairmanship between Shreveport and Bossier City. Glover was elected chairman and Bossier Mayor Lo Walker vice chairman.

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