St. Charles Parish was awarded a $442,422 planning grant that will be used to focus on ways to improve Paul Maillard Road and determine the type of development that will best suit the area in the future.
Paul Maillard Road was once the main street of Luling and it still serves as a busy corridor that connects Highway 90 and River Road. However, Kim Marousek-Marretta, the director of the parish’s Planning and Zoning Department, said numerous problems plague the area, including the width of the road, the depth of lots that front the road and the perception of high crime in the surrounding area.
"We know as we move forward we will have to consider the right of way width that exists, the need for drainage, existing driveways as well as the existing commercial and residential uses that exist along the corridor," she said. "But we are just at the beginning stages and our hope is that as we engage the community we will learn from them additional issues that we will need to consider."
Marretta said there will be several phases of community involvement because the parish wants to gather input from those who live along the roadway, those who use services along the road and those who use it as a through-route.
In the parish’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which was adopted in July, the revitalization of Paul Maillard was considered key to promoting sustainable development in the parish. The plan will focus on engaging with the community to re-envision the corridor as a destination that connects the surrounding neighborhoods rather than a barrier that separates them.
The anticipated benefits of the grant include enhancing economic competitiveness of all property owners along the corridor by encouraging public and private investment. Another goal includes providing more transportation choices with the addition of pedestrian and cyclist pathways along the road.
The parish also hopes to create added value to communities and neighborhoods by developing safe and walkable neighborhoods connected to each other.
Marretta said that the key to revitalizing Paul Maillard Road is St. Charles Parish Hospital, because it puts jobs on the road and it draws a lot of traffic to the corridor.
"People go to hospitals for their own emergency and routine care and also to help friends and relatives get their health care needs met," she said. "Ideally, people could get a few other things done – conveniently – when they take that trip to the hospital.
"This project will help determine what other types of businesses people want to patronize while they’re in the area and what new commercial development regulations will enable those businesses to come to the area."
Because Paul Maillard is a state road, the parish will have to work with the Department of Transportation and Development and the Regional Planning Commission to determine the best improvements and how to finance them. Both agencies have partnered with the parish on the grant.