The construction of a new road that would link Highway 90 in Luling with River Road would cost around $17 million, according to St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre.
St. Pierre said he received the cost estimate from Walter Brooks with the Regional Planning Commission.
Barton Avenue now serves as a major connection between the two, but it runs through a residential neighborhood. The road has become heavily congested because of the lack of a signal light at the intersection of Barton and River Road, which forces commuters to wait until multi-directional traffic clears before they can turn.
Two railroad tracks also run through the narrow street.
The highway would extend from Willowdale Boulevard in Luling and travel parallel to Highway 90 up to the Davis Pond Diversion. The road would then pass over Highway 90 and travel through land owned by Levert Land Co. The final section of the route would elevate over the railroad track and link to River Road.
"I believe (the Willowdale extension) would most certainly alleviate traffic on Barton to a large extent," St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said. "I think that would be a good project."
The parish would likely not pay for any cost associated with the highway’s construction, St. Pierre said. Instead, the parish’s cost would involve swapping the new road for Barton Avenue.
"Barton would become a local parish street and the parish would then take over maintenance of it," parish spokeswoman Renee Simpson said.
The project is still in the early stages, St. Pierre said.
Another major project St. Pierre says is in the works is an exit from Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway in Luling to I-310. Currently, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, R.K. Smith Middle School, St. Charles Parish Public Schools Satellite Center, St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter and a few businesses dot the road. Construction on a community center is also underway. However, if an accident should ever close the railroad track on the parkway, there would be no means of escape.
"All of the government offices, schools and businesses along Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway have experienced moderate to severe delays as a result of a train accident and other delays in which the crossing has been blocked," Champagne said. "We have no other way to exit at this time."
The road, which would likely be constructed at the end of Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway, would be an exit only.
"We think this would allow the Sheriff’s Office, students/teachers of R.K. Smith and the Satellite Center, and other employees and citizens an exit in cases of emergency and support this initiative," Champagne said.