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Westlake and Moss Bluff residents filled the Managan Center in Westlake to discuss the new La. 378 proposals Wednesday. Most residents agreed that Proposal C should not be an option. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Westlake and Moss Bluff residents filled the Managan Center in Westlake to discuss the new La. 378 proposals Wednesday. Most residents agreed that Proposal C should not be an option. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Editorial: Sam Houston Park still not in the clear

Last Modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 7:31 PM Area residents sent an undeniable message to state highway officials earlier this week: a plan to build a highway expansion through Sam Houston State Park is a non-starter.

They packed Westlake’s Managan Center to weigh in on three different options for widening and improving La. 378 from Interstate 10 through Westlake and on into Moss Bluff.

The strong reaction to Proposal C, which would build a four-lane road through the eastern section of the park, should convey to the state Department of Transportation and Development that the plan should be tossed in a trash bin, never again to see the light of day.

Sam Houston State Jones Park embodies one of this area’s greatest assets. It is a true nature wonderland with soaring pines, magnificent views of the Calcasieu River’s West Fork, hiking trails, picnic and camping areas and an assortment of wildlife.

Over decades it has been the site of family reunions, birthday parties, first dates and an occasional wedding ceremony.

A four-lane highway through the park’s boundaries would be akin to a stake through the heart.

If interloping into the park’s beauty and tranquility wasn’t bad enough, Proposal C would also require building two bridges, across the West Fork and Indian Bayou, hence adding to the cost of such a project.

The other two proposals, A and B, would more closely track the existing highway.

Two people who would either lose their homes or have their property dramatically affected by either Proposals A or B said they would prefer that upheaval rather than seeing a road built through the park. That’s putting the public good above private concerns.

The expansion of La. 378 is long overdue and has become an even more pressing issue with the planned construction of the $17 billion to $21 billion Sasol gas-to-liquids and ethylene cracker unit complex that will likely break ground next year.

The highway’s upgrade could also one day be part of a desperately needed north loop that would eventually tie in to Pujol Road and Interstate 10 at the Chloe exit.

State Rep. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, and Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Hal McMillin said Proposal C should be killed.

Area residents must remain vigilant and continue to voice their support in seeing that Proposal C is vanquished and Sam Houston State Park’s remains whole and undisturbed.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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