Editorial: Sam Houston Park still not in the clear

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


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.

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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.