Zachary Mayor David Amrhein joined Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden at a groundbreaking ceremony for the project on Wednesday, June 6, as did Zachary Dept. of Public Works Director Chris Davezac, Lisa Rioux (representing Metro Councilman Trae Welch), representatives from the project's design engineer team at Evans-Graves Engineers, Inc. and contractor Boone Services, Inc., as well members of the Green Light Plan team and CSRS, the project management team.
The ceremony was held along the project site’s right-of-way.
Intersection improvements will cost $1.1 million and take about four months to complete. This is the 32nd project in the Green Light Plan program.
The U.S. 61 at Hwy. 64 project will expand the intersection by providing a dedicated right-turn lane for northbound U.S. 61 motorists and upgrade the traffic signalization for the intersection.
Additional improvements to the intersection include widening the existing two-lane undivided segment of westbound Hwy. 64 (approaching U.S. 61) into a four-lane divided roadway in preparation for future road widening plans for Hwy. 64.
"We have to continue to improve the traffic on our state and U.S. highways," said Mayor Holden. "The short-term solutions we anticipated have come about much sooner than expected."
Mayor Holden said that businesses are springing up throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. "It's economic development at its core, and with the growth we're seeing across the parish, we must be able to meet these infrastructure needs if we're going to attract new business."
Mayor Holden said growing traffic congestion is a real problem, and short-term solutions as well as long-term solutions must be provided.
The end result of the Hwy. 61 and Hwy 64 project will achieve two goals - provide short-term benefits for motorists while laying the foundation for future road-widening and capacity improvements.
Those capacity improvements, said Mayor Amrhein, will benefit the Americana development which has already broken ground on Mt. Pleasant.
"For all our efforts to improve, we must be on the same page," said Amrhein. "With Americana, about 3-4,000 people will be living and working in Zachary's first-ever TND (traditional neighborhood development), so this project is much needed."
"There is quite a number of agencies involved in making this project happen," said Michael Songy, Green Light Plan program director. "Thank you, to the City of Zachary and its Public Works Department for the work they did in relocating utilities and relaying pipes," said Songy.
Songy said by the end of the year, about 30 GLP projects will have been completed. "The program won't end then, however, and we'll continue to perform work over the next few years," Songy said.
The GLP is a comprehensive transportation program to improve roadway infrastructure and provide citizen safety throughout EBRP.
In October 2005, citizens in EBRP voted and passed a one-half of one percent sales and use tax for local street and roadway improvements.
Seventy percent of the proceeds are used for transportation improvements including the construction of new roads, widening of existing roads, intersection improvements and upgrades to traffic signalization and synchronization.
For more, visit www.brgov.com/greenlight.