Cyclist, roller skaters and joggers who have enjoyed the use of the bicycle path in Destrehan will reap the benefit of an extended trail.
That’s because the Louisiana Department of Transportation has approved funding in two phases that will extend the trail in Ormond to include West Harding in New Sarpy and connect another section in Norco, which will end near Apple Street.
“Basically, the bike path is good for everyone,” Steve Wilson, president of the Ponchartrain Levee District, said. “During Hurricane Katrina, emergency personnel used the bike path to go to and from Jefferson Parish to enter St. Charles Parish.”
The next step would be to put the project out for bids.
“The state is holding up on those bids right now, because after 2005, the Army Corps of Engineers reassessed the levees along the Mississippi River,” Wilson said. “Based on this reassessment, levees in St. Charles Parish may have to be elevated.”
Wilson says it would be better to wait and find out if the levee has to be torn up before construction can begin.
Wilson says the bike path will have asphalt instead of limestone.
“From the levee district point of view, we have to make sure the crown of the levee is not disrupted in this,” he said. “The object of the bike trail is for cyclist to ride from Jefferson Parish, through St. Charles, which is about 122 miles.”
The trail will ultimately end in New Orleans.
“There may be some sections where the cyclist would have to get off the bike path and ride on subdivision bike trails – like those seen in Ormond,” Wilson said. “The trail would ultimately end at the mouth of the river in Audubon Park in New Orleans.”
When constructing the trails, Wilson says the plans must also consider the Christmas bonfires that are a tradition in St. James and St. John Parishes. Those bonfires are held on the levee.
“The study cost $250,000 to come up with a plan for the bike trail,” Wilson said. “All six parishes contributed $12,500 for the study.”
In 2006, Wilson says the Ponchartrain Levee District board agreed to pay for a study of the proposed 122-mile paved bicycle path that would be built atop Mississippi River levees in six south Louisiana parishes. When complete, the path will run from East Baton Rouge Parish to St. Charles Parish and connect several miles of existing bicycle paths already in place.