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DOTD to host public meeting to discuss La. 378 project

Last Modified: Saturday, September 14, 2013 10:27 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Department of Transportation and Development officials will be in Southwest Louisiana Wednesday to discuss the widening and extension of La. 378, which connects Moss Bluff and Westlake.

DOTD is performing a feasibility study in which three alternate routes for a four-lane connection between Moss Bluff and Westlake are being considered, DOTD spokeswoman Deidra Druilhet said.

Some local residents have expressed concern because one of the proposed routes would travel through Sam Houston Jones State Park.

DOTD is holding a public meeting from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Managan Center in Westlake to discuss the project.

“My first concern is why is it even an option in a feasibility study,” said David Clayton, a regular visitor to the park. “Sam Houston Jones State Park is a treasure of Southwest Louisiana.”

The park is a stopping point for campers, a regular meeting site for locals, a place for walkers, hikers, cyclists and disc golfers, Clayton said.

Clayton said he is concerned that if a road were to cut through the eastern part of the park, the RV spots and other park amenities in the east side would have to be moved, “jumbling up everything on top of each other” and making the park “a shadow of itself.”

Druilhet emphasized that the proposed route through the park is only an alternative as part of a feasibility study that considers every option.

“Nothing has been finalized,” Druilhet said. “This is just an opportunity to present those alternatives to the public. Of course, one of those alternatives does propose re-aligning the road through the park and I think with a feasibility study, we have to look at all options. That’s not saying this is the alternative that we are going to choose, but it’s the fact that we have to present those options to the public.”

Proposal A involves closely following the existing road, widening it and making improvements to the right-hand turn from Westwood Road onto Phillips Road and the left-hand turn from Phillips Road onto Davis Road, according to an email from Druilhet.

Proposal B would re-align the road “from Hudson Road to Davis Road to the east of the existing roadway,” Druilhet said.

The road “would almost cut at an angle between Hudson and Westwood all the way over to Davis and Phillips,” consultant Bruce Richards said.

Proposal C, through the park, would follow Westwood Road north to Phillips Road before realigning west of the existing roadway, Druilhet said.

While the first two proposals would travel the same route as the existing bridge, the third would require two new bridges, Richards said.

Richards said DOTD can “mix and match” the best options because the proposals are not set in stone.

The project will also consider ways to make traffic on Sampson Street flow better, Richards said.

Richards said none of the alternate routes are currently being considered over the others.

“All of these have been determined to be, in terms of highway standards, geometrically feasible,” Richards said. “We’re finding out that some of them may have more impact than others... Some of them have more possible relocations than other and of course C would affect the park and there’s some issues with that as well.”

How many homes would have to be relocated is not yet known, Richards said. He said a project cost will be presented at the meeting as well as the impact of each route, Richards said.

Richards said he hoping for input from residents.

“They’ll be able to tell us things that we might not have know about,” he said. “It’s a good way to keep the public involved and get input back from them. We’re looking forward to a good turnout Wednesday night.”

DOTD will also hold a public meeting from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night at the Springhill Suites Marriott on West Prien Lake Road to discuss the proposed Nelson Road extension and bridge and West Sallier Street improvements.

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