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Finish 3132 Presents to City Council

May 08, 2012

The Finish 3132 Coalition addressed the Shreveport City Council during its regularly scheduled meeting on May 8, hoping to respond to confusion expressed by council members during a meeting two weeks earlier. On April 24, the council heard a presentation from real estate developer Tim Larkin about his Esplanade subdivision currently under construction in southeast Shreveport. During that meeting, the council also heard Kent Rogers of the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) offer details about the future of the Louisiana Highway 3132 (The Inner Loop) extension. The two topics are closely tied due to Esplanade’s proximity to the presumed route of the highway’s southern extension. Highway 3132 terminates at East Flournoy Lucas Road in southeast Shreveport.

District E Councilman Ron Webb summed it up during the meeting when he said “A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to figure out what the argument was all about. It’s been very confusing to say the least.”

At the invitation of District F Councilman Joe Shyne, coalition spokesman Elliott Stonecipher displayed a map which he said showed a “preferred route” for the 3132 southern extension that had been identified in 1991. He said that route was the result of an extensive process during which 11 possible routes were studied. He said an advisory council was in place during the process which included the present-day city engineer, Ron Norwood, and the city council, a member of which was Cedric Glover, who is now mayor of the City of Shreveport.

The route was superimposed over a current map of the area. It showed that there are houses, “millions of dollars worth of real estate,” according to Stonecipher, in the Twelve Oaks subdivision, now constructed on land intended for the southern extension of 3132, as represented on the 1992 map.

Stonecipher, who is quick to point out that he is a resident of Twelve Oaks, said “In about 2000-2001, to the surprise of many, Twelve Oaks was built, much of it where the preferred route is.” He called on the council and the mayor to “get us a definitive answer about how and why the route was moved.” He pointed out that Mayor Glover has recently been elected chairman of NLCOG and asserted that Glover is in a great position “to get to the bottom of what happened here.”

Stonecipher also reminded the mayor and council that voters approved a bond issue in 1996 to fund The Inner Loop extension to the Port of Shreveport-Bossier. He said “voters specifically voted for the 3132 extension to the port, and that work has been brushed aside. It’s easy now to act as if the people haven’t had their say on the 3132 extension, but they have.”

Stonecipher had a specific request: “We would ask the city council to please tell us how to appeal to city government to discover how the route was approved, how Twelve Oaks was built in the preferred route and where that leads us.”

Councilman Webb said he is in favor of Larkin building homes in Esplanade, “as long as it doesn’t impede the extension of 3132.”

Several speakers alluded to the ongoing “stage zero” study of the possible route of the extension. In his response, Mayor Glover referred to the previously mentioned “preferred route” by saying “2012 realities were not necessarily apparent in 1992 or 1993. When the (current) corridor studies are done, there has to be some very specific definitive acts on the part of government that says ‘this is the route we intend to utilize within a three-year period of time.’” He said making decisions in a timely manner is important because “we don’t want to hold hostage the property of individuals for a study that may drag on for years.”

On the topic of holding property hostage, Councilman Shyne noted that Willis-Knighton Health System “is a developer, too,” in reference to the more than 100 million dollars which has been invested in the creation of The Oaks of Louisiana, a residential community for active seniors which is situated less than one-half mile east of Highway 3132 as it approaches East Flournoy Lucas Road. Jim McMichael, an attorney representing Willis-Knighton in matters related to The Inner Loop, told the council “Willis-Knighton could be dramatically affected by decisions related to 3132. Willis-Knighton wants to protect its residents at The Oaks from dangerous traffic. The relief for that is the extension of 3132. We also want to protect a $100+ million dollar investment it has made in the area.”

The mayor was armed with statistics and he referred to the recent reconstruction on East Flournoy Lucas Road between Ellerbe Road and Youree Drive, which was completed on December 16, 2011. Glover said “from the seventeenth of December to the sixteenth of April, we have had nine accidents (on that stretch of road). Two of those involved deer running into the road in the 400 block of Flournoy Lucas Road.”

Rhonda Beauvais, president and chief executive officer of The Glen Retirement System, also addressed the council, urging them to push forward the southern extension of 3132. She said “After enduring years of construction (on Flournoy Lucas), we always thought the light at the end of the tunnel was the extension of 3132.” The Glen is located less than one-half mile west of 3132 and its property is adjacent to the Esplanade development.

The mayor and several members of the council have openly advocated for the continued development of Esplanade. Councilman Shyne said “I know the mayor will support anything that will be beneficial to the city,” adding “I know we’ll get a bigger economic bang if this road is allowed to continue to the port. We’ve got to make sure we take care of the port and not some developer.”

McMichael said “The mayor is absolutely correct in his desire to be a champion for new development in the city. You have to understand that Willis-Knighton is a developer, too, and it has spent millions of dollars within its faith in the goals of the government with respect to the extension of 3132. Now, Willis-Knighton is in danger of having its interests ignored. Its investments are in danger of being put in jeopardy by virtue of chasing the next developer’s dollar.”

Stonecipher put it another way: “Either this government stands for what the people voted on, or they turn things over to the profiteers and let them have fun at our expense.”

McMichael added, “Willis-Knighton feels like it’s dealing with a bait-and-switch.”

Mayor Glover said, “There has always been an effort to maintain a corridor through which the road itself (3132) can be developed.” He added, “The 3132 selection process is moving forward. Esplanade is moving forward.”

Councilman Shyne continues to insist that the extension of Highway 3132 is much more than a southeast Shreveport issue. He said “this is a very important issue to all of Shreveport and all of North Louisiana”

Council Chairman Sam Jenkins, who represents District G, sought to bring the discussion to a close, citing a lengthy agenda; he assured the impressive gathering of onlookers, most of whom were specifically interested in the fate of Highway 3132, saying “the council is on record with not wanting anything to interfere with 3132. We will continue to monitor this as a council. We know it’s important to the city.”

Video Updates

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