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JP road construction could spur economic development

Clearview Parkway near Veterans Boulevard Clearview Parkway near Veterans Boulevard

METAIRIE, La. - Drivers in Jefferson Parish can't help but notice all of the roadwork under way, and parish and business leaders hope the end result will be more economic development.

Work is ongoing on Airline Drive, Transcontinental, Clearview Parkway, and Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie. There is also road work in the city of Kenner.

The westbank of Jefferson Parish is seeing road upgrades, as well.

"On the Westbank Expressway we're doing two new approach ramps," said Jefferson Parish President John Young. "One of those projects is from the toll money from years ago, and then we're going to be eventually doing some work widening Ames."

Most of the projects in the parish benefit from federal, state and local government matching dollars, according to parish leaders, and benefits from the road construction are expected to go well beyond the smoother surfaces.

"It's very good for the parish," said Todd Murphy, president of the Jefferson Chamber. "You know, when we look at quality of life initiatives and initiatives to better the business environment for Jefferson Parish, infrastructure is right at the top of the list. It's probably right underneath creating a good workforce."

Here is a look at costs associated with some of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development projects under way in Jefferson Parish:

--The 1-10 widening from Veterans to Clearview costs over $42 million.

--Asphalt overlay on Airline Drive from Labarre Road to Transcontinental Drive is $2 million.

--Overlay work on Manhattan Boulevard on the westbank costs $2.5 million.

"When you can get around easily without the pothole problem and without, you know, serious infrastructure problems, it just creates a more inviting environment, less accidents and hopefully that helps keep the car insurance rates down," said Murphy.

The wider Huey P. Long Bridge is already producing economic benefits.

"You can see what it's done in Elmwood, and you can see what they're doing in what's now called Fairfield on the westbank," said Murphy. "Just a lot of expansion, a lot of growth."

Young said thanks to federal dollars, many neighborhood streets in Jefferson Parish that weathered damage during Hurricane Katrina are also getting repairs through the Submerged Road Program.

The Katrina-related road work alone amounts to $100 million in spending, according to Young.

"The good news is we're doing road work, the bad news is we're doing road work, but again a little inconvenience for progress," said Young.

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