Progress on Nelson project

Section of railroad on Sallier will be moved

Lake Charles Port Board members on Monday moved forward on the first step of the Nelson Road extension project — moving a section of the railroad on Sallier Street to the north side of the roadway.

The board agreed to enter into a professional services agreement with Meyer and Associates to begin a study on designing the railroad, which is expected to stretch from Barbe Street west to the port. Port Director Bill Rase said the company has worked with the port on past rail projects.

Moving the railroad, Rase said, has to be done before the state Department of Transportation and Development can start work to extend Nelson Road and build a bridge over Contraband Bayou to connect it with Sallier Street. He said that moving the rail line will significantly impact services such as drainage, sewer and electrical, but it will lower the number of railroad crossings along the south side of Sallier Street by 18.

“It is a big benefit to the port and to the local people who live in this area,” Rase said.

Once the railroad is moved, the city of Lake Charles can begin refurbishing a section of Sallier Street west of Lake Street. City Administrator John Cardone said on Tuesday that the city is also using Meyer and Associates to design the roadway improvements.

The upgrades, costing $10 million to $12 million, will include widening the roadway to a “full three lanes or four lanes,” along with drainage, water and sewer upgrades, Cardone said.

The Port Board also entered into an agreement with the DOTD. Because the DOTD doesn’t have the in-house personnel to deal with railroads, it asked the port to handle the design and construction of the railroad, Rase said.

Rase said the port agreed roughly five years ago to contribute $1 million to move the railroad. He said the DOTD will be responsible for any costs related to moving the railroad that exceed $1 million.

Don Duberville, DOTD administrator for District 7, said the project, which has a preliminary estimated cost of $30.8 million, is still in the design phase. The tentative date to send the project out for bids is March 2020.

Cardone said the city has met with the port and DOTD officials over the last couple of years to “coordinate our efforts” and “make sure the project happens efficiently and effectively.”

“It’s imperative we work together to make this happen,” he said.

‘It is a big benefit to the port and to the local people who live in this area.’

Bill Rase

Port of Lake Charles director

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The first step of the Nelson Road extension project is moving a section of the railroad on Sallier Street to the north side of the roadway.

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