Parish facing rising costs in road construction

Local roads in St. Charles Parish are being revamped yearly based on the parish’s systematic Road Maintenance Program.
The current work contract consists of 33 roads, or about 12-and-a-half miles. Major roads being repaired include Fifth Street in Norco, Carolyn Drive in New Sarpy and Davis Drive in Luling.

According to St. Charles Parish Senior Public Works Engineer Lee Zeringue, roads are surveyed annually and evaluated based on a priority rating system. Roads get points based on nearby infrastructure, the number of dwellings they contain, access to emergency services, estimated daily traffic and existing condition.

Roads with higher ratings are first in line to be repaired, he said.

Funding for the roadwork comes, in part, in the form of approximately $500,000 from the state’s transportation fund. The amount varies by year based on the state’s allocation to Louisiana’s other 63 parishes. Remaining funds come from a parish property tax, which has been set by the parish council at 5.83 mills.

Since 2006 the road maintenance program has seen a noticeable increase in repair costs due to the increasing price of materials, Zeringue said. Costs jumped from $6.7 million in 2006 to $10.3 million in 2007. 2009’s set of repairs cost over $14 million.

For example, 2009’s highest priority road in District 7, Lakewood Drive, accounted for almost 36 percent of the repair costs associated with that district.  

Engineering firms bid on the contracts, which last three years. The St. Charles Parish Council approves the contracts.

While the contractor ultimately decides how a particular road will be repaired, one common process is ‘milling’. It’s a process by which two inches of the road is shaved off, leaving a temporary, rough surface. Liquid asphalt is then laid down over the road. Milling allows the asphalt to grip the surface when it is applied.

Residents may experience road closures or traffic delays due to the road repair work, Zeringue said. However, the work results in safer roads parishwide.  

Contractors make an effort to warn residents and businesses before work is to begin in an area by posting flyers. The road maintenance program needs cooperation from parish residents to help the process. Residents are usually asked not to park cars along the roadway and to pay close attention to any posted signage.

New construction will take place in late August or early September, Zeringue said.


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