Funding remains largest hurdle in inferior road debate

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Fish Hatchery Road residents had two questions for the Parish Council Monday. What do they need to do to get consistent maintenance and how can they get a long-term maintenance plan funded? Lesha Etheredge was the spokesperson for the some 90 people who met several weeks ago to discuss how to get maintenance on the road. There were about 10 people from the group at the meeting Monday.

Seamless Gutters

Etheredge said the highway department would fix some potholes but the road would be ignored for eight months. And the potholes that were filled appear to be worse. Parish President John Richmond, who remains the highway director until a new one is hired, said pothole patching isn’t working and a new material put down was not the best. He also cited rain as a factor. As for a long-term plan, Richmond said that Fish Hatchery Road was put in the State Capital Outlay Program in 2016 but was removed by the State. It is back in capital outlay but has not been funded.

He wants to work with the Cane River Waterway Commission to see if it may have funds for drainage and maintenance since the road parallels Cane River. He agreed that the drainage issues should be addressed first but said there is no specific money for Fish Hatchery Road. John Salter is a new council member who took a different approach. He wants to get prices on grinding the base and putting down a chip and seal base. That might involve repairing small sections of the road until it is all done.

Salter told Etheredge that he wanted to attend the next meeting of the Fish Hatchery Road residents. Salter asked Richmond about the proposed purchase of an excavator. Salter said the police jury purchased one in 2012 for $46,000 that could be used for installing culverts. There were 14 items approved for awarding of bids, or rejection of some, for highway materials because they were too expensive.

There were a few items such as bottom ash, silty clay soil and crushed concrete that had no bidders. Michael Mondello lives near Campti on Hart Road and said the highway department had “spent its money for nothing” putting tar and gray matter in potholes. He suggested putting down gravel and said the department needed a better plan. “Close it or fix it,” he said. Richmond told Mondello he was open to positive information on how to get money. He is going to Baton Rouge to meet with legislators and said he hoped to do better in the future. Richmond had nearly the same to say to John Hodgston who lives on Pardee Road that he says is impassable.

Hodgston attends nearly every Parish Council meeting to lobby for maintenance on Pardee Road. Richmond told him that maintenance would be limited to patching potholes.