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MPC Opposes Larkin/Esplanade Road Request

May 02, 2012

It was a standing room only crowd at the Metropolitan Planning Commission meeting this afternoon. The crowd was heavily opposed to Tim Larkin and his Esplanade development receiving a permanent entrance onto Flournoy Lucas Road. A construction road into Esplanade now enters Flournoy Lucas just west of the terminus of LA 3132. At the end of the meeting, the commission joined the opposition.

By a unanimous vote (7 to 0) the MPC removed their earlier stipulation that would have allowed Larkin to continue plans to turn his construction entrance off Flournoy Lucas into a paved entrance into his development. In addition, Commissioner Larry Ferdinand indicated he wants to put a penalty provision into their order to Larkin. Ferdinand wants it “in writing” that the MPC could withhold building permits for Larkin's proposed residential development's homes if he fails to follow all of the commission's directives.

Coalition spokesman Elliott Stonecipher says the Commission did much more today than the Finish 3132 Coalition expected, but he wants to see the details. In his presentation to the MPC, he mentioned the Coalition’s concern that the City Council can and may overturn the MPC’s ruling.

Speaking on behalf of Esplanade developer Tim Larkin, Andrew Craig of Mohr and Associates, reviewed the development and its progress. He showed a route proposed for 3132 along Bayou Pierre which has been protected by Larkin and which he contended does not conflict with the road system for Esplanade, including the access road to East Flournoy Lucas that Larkin now wants to pave. It is a right-in, right-out access road granted by DOTD, which controls all things along Flournoy Lucas, a state highway. He mentioned Larkin’s continued communication with the MPC as the project has progressed. (He did not mention that Railsback Road residents had objected to Larkin’s subdivision dumping traffic on their road nor the similar objections of residents along Flournoy Lucas who object to the traffic being transferred to their location.) He showed page 2 of a letter from Louisiana DOTD assistant secretary Dr. Eric Kalivoda that supposedly indicated DOTD’s approval of Larkin’s road and the fact that it would not impede the extension of 3132.

As he usually does, Larkin reinforced his support for the extension of 3132 and pointed out that they had put a proposed route on their maps and it was just fine with them. He also reinforced that Kalivoda had approved Esplanade’s access road into Flournoy Lucas. He, like Craig before him, failed to do one thing, show page 1 of the letter which the public records request has provided to the Finish3132 Coalition. That first page, presented in Stonecipher’s Finish3132 Coalition presentation, is about a proposed entrance with The Glen, an entrance that has been opposed by The Glen’s board. In fact, Rhonda, Beauvais, speaking for The Glen indicated that she and her board always felt that, after all the construction along Flournoy Lucas and 3132, the extension of 3132 to the Port was “the light at the end of the tunnel.” She said she believes “no one really cares about what the added traffic means to our community.”

Stonecipher followed Larkin and offered a detailed presentation documenting comments about 3132 and pointing out (as earlier noted) that Larkin and his engineer failed to be forthcoming about the first part of the letter from Kalivoda which he offered as evidence of approval for his roadway. Stonecipher showed that the citizens of Shreveport had clearly supported the extension of 3132 through the years, including the most recent bond issue that provided for the extension of 3132 to Flournoy Lucas. Stonecipher emphasized that no route has been approved for the 3132 and requested three things of the MPC : (1) that they not allow anything that would impede the future of 3132 south from Flournoy Lucas, (2) that they protect the residents from the dangers of increased traffic and (3) they protect the economic interests of the citizens who voted for the bond issue (that extended 3132 from Bert Kouns to Flournoy Lucas and provided for the city purchase of the 16 acres south of the current terminus that would be needed for the anticipated extension) as well as existing interests along Flournoy Lucas.

As spokesman of the Finish3132 Coalition Stonecipher reminded MPC commissioners that the voters had specifically set aside bond money to build 3132 almost 20 years ago. He said the bond issue wasn’t for some hypothetical route, but one that would move 3132 directly to the Caddo-Bossier Port. Stonecipher again called for public awareness of public meetings and increased vigilance of public officials saying, "Somewhere 3132 went off the tracks. Now we're trying to set things straight."

The Rev. Andrew Comeaux indicated that he has spent numerous years as a chaplain ministering to the senior citizens who reside along Flournoy Lucas Road. He said that he has seen the speed limit on the road move from 35 to 45 to 50 miles per hour and traffic that included not only the senior citizens and residents of the area but vehicles servicing the Port and nearby natural gas fields. He mentioned a recent motorcycle accident on East Flournoy Lucas Road, near the 3132 terminus where the motorcyclist was killed. Although the accident it was apparently initiated by a malfunction on the motorcycle, he was concerned that the outcome was exacerbated by the speed limit. Because he works in the area, he pointed out that the traffic backed up along 3132 and in both directions along East Flournoy Lucas Road, hindering the fast deployment of emergency care to the motorist and, he added, to anyone else (seniors citizens) who might have needed emergency services at that time. He expressed concerns about curb cuts on that road and the additional traffic that an entrance to Esplanade might add. “This increases the danger on an already dangerous road, making it necessary to prevent any encroachment on land needed to complete LA 3132,” he said.

Darrell Rebouche, an Acadiana Place resident, brought a petition to the MPC signed by more than 140 residents of the subdivision which is on the north side of East Flournoy Lucas, just west of the terminus of 3132. He said they feared unwanted commercial development along Flournoy Lucas Road and the implications of additional traffic. He pointed out that his neighborhood has only one way in and one way out and indicated their concern about another entrance in that heavily traveled areas.

Willie Bradford, community activist and resident of Queensborough, talked about the economic impact of 3132 and that it was not just an issue for the residents along Flournoy Lucas but that it was a community issue. He indicated that many people from the Queensborough neighborhood travel in the area for work.

Retired engineer Gil Pittard, who has returned to Shreveport after living in other metropolitan areas here and in Europe, said he has been following the city’s plans for loops and 3132 for years. “We saw the plans for 3132 to continue to Highway 1,” he said. He also indicated that he has been embarrassed about the Louisiana style politics that have impaired its extension over the years.

Willis-Knighton Health System's attorney Jim McMichael told the commission it was imperative that there was no interference with the planned 3132 extension. McMichael was one of several speakers who reinforced Stonecipher’s point that there is a million-dollar study to determine the route of the extension of 3132, a fact confirmed by the only NLCOG staffer to attend the meeting, Chris Pietro. In fact, Pietro pointed out that it will be months before we know a feasible route for the proposed extension. McMichael urged the commission to let the current process to find a 3132 extension route continue and halt any activity that might impede that route until we know what the route is.

Retired architect Bill Wiener Jr. warned that putting an entrance to Esplanade so close to the traffic lights on Flournoy Lucas and the current 3132 exits could cause a traffic snarl for residents of Esplanade and those drivers leaving 3132 for Flournoy Lucas. He said 3132 or the “inner loop” was part of Shreveport’s longtime master plan. Not building the extension would leave, in his words, “a loop with a gap.”

Winzer Andrews, commissioner leading the meeting, asked all opposed to Larkin’s request to rise. Well more than half of the people in the packed City Council Chambers stood in opposition. When the standing vote was taken, nearly two hours after the beginning of the meeting, many of the seniors residents in the area who came to express their opposition had left. Had they been present, they would have added another dozen or so to the standing vote. It appeared that only a handful of people stood in favor of Larkin’s proposal when asked to do so.

Video Updates

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