Says realignment would hurt property value, history
Luling residents Greg and Phoebe Cellos oppose the proposed U.S. Highway 90 realignment, arguing it would put the roadway within a “stone’s throw” of their historic home place and site of the original Mozella Plantation.
“I can say that while we are talking about maybe an acre more or less loss, which might seem little, the impact to our homestead as a whole will be devastating,” Greg Cellos said. “No payment could compensate for losses or damages. Ours is a 150-year-old homestead – the site of the original Mozella plantation. Three generations have been raised in this house and preceding generations are interred here in the family (Youngs) cemetery.”
The proposed plan describes the change as a “permanent detour” of Highway 90 West, which would curve over to and parallel Highway 631.
Surveyors have been working along the proposed route in recent weeks doing the preliminary planning for the project, which is being initiated by the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and will be constructed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
Aimed at addressing lingering complaints about mounting traffic entering I-310 from Highway 90, RPC Deputy Director Jeff Roesel called the $12 million detour project a potential solution where the travel lanes would be moved a little bit and avoid the extensive, lengthy and costly federal bureaucracy required to alter the interstate.
As currently proposed, Cellos said the detour would literally wrap about their property. It also would bring traffic to within “a stone’s throw of our porch,” he said, and would “destroy any remaining serenity to the Youngs Cemetery.”
Cellos maintains the family property has been encroached on and encircled by highways on three sides, as well as a railroad, transmission lines and servitudes.
As for a potential noise buffer potentially coming with the project, Cellos said it’s already too noisy there and he does not expect it to help.
“There is zero chance the state noise remediation policy will help in our case,” he added. “The state should not abuse eminent domain – this project compromises two cemeteries.”
The plan calls for realigning Highway 90 westbound travel lanes under the bridge structure for the on- and off-ramp.But Cellos added, “We need overpasses, not a detour. A public meeting (possibly) by summer will be too late to do anything but inform the public of what has already been decided.”
Parish Councilman Paul Hogan, who asked the DOTD for help with addressing the mounting traffic problem, agreed.Hogan said he’d still prefer a fly-over ramp rather than realigning Highway 90.
“The problem with the state is it’s apparently trying to come up with the cheapest means possible to do something with the interchange,” Hogan said. “It’s cheaper to shift the road rather than build a bridge.”
Although the currently proposed project isn’t his preference, he wants an option to address eastbound highway traffic to I-310.
“I’m in support of whatever solves that access and whatever makes that happen,” Hogan said.
Roesel said the realignment was chosen from 16 alternatives and is the option considered more viable compared to the initially proposed fly-over ramp because of the additional cost and delays required with determining it would not conflict with the planned I-49 corridor.
The RPC, the DOTD and Federal Highway Administration all concurred on the alternative.
Roesel said public meetings on the project could be held this summer.