Local residents show a section of Bermuda Road that is badly in need of repair. The funding from Cane River Waterway Commission will fully fund a complete road replacement, up to10 miles, of Bermuda and Fish Hatchery Roads. From left are Augustine Nabors, Parish Road Maintenance Supervisor Johnny Salard, Gussie Smith, Alisha Johnson and Parish Councilwoman Patsy Ward-Hoover. Photos by Juanice Gray

Citizens celebrate cooperation

By Juanice Gray,

Seamless Gutters

Bermuda and Fish Hatchery Road residents got great news Wednesday, June 10 at a press conference at Shell Beach. Both roads, up to 10 miles total, will be completely replaced. Several local residents attended to express their appreciation and hear the news in person.
Cane River Waterway Commission (CRWC) will fund the project through a cooperative endeavor agreement with Parish Government. CRWC Commissioner Jim Rhodes said the $3.5-4 million project would benefit residents, governmental agencies, law enforcement, ambulance service and schoolchildren. “Citizens will be able to get home, and get out to get to work, because I know there are some instances when you just can’t get out when the roads are bad,” he said.

Bermuda Road residents cheered upon learning their road would receive a complete overhaul as the result of a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Parish Government and Cane River Waterway Commission.

The project will not be “icing on the cake” according to Parish President John Richmond. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right. It’s not to look pretty, it’s to function well. This will be a total project,” he said. Ditches, culverts, road base and asphalt are included.
Richmond said everyone knows roads take a lot of money to keep them up and even more to rebuild them. “These folks are helping us out,” he said. The CRWC chose to help rebuild this infrastructure. This, in turn, frees up equipment, labor, equipment and material resources that can now go to other areas of the parish. “Whatever happens here benefits the entire parish,” he said.

Parish President John Richmond said, “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right. It’s not to look pretty, it’s to function well. This will be a total project.”

Construction is set to begin in accordance with state bid laws. Richmond said the parish engineer is preparing the paperwork and once bids are advertised and let, construction can begin. “The idea here is lets make some hay while the sun shines,” he said.
Rhodes said funding would be released in accordance with the bid process.

CRWC Commissioner Jim Rhodes said the $3.5-4 million project would benefit residents, governmental agencies, law enforcement, ambulance service and schoolchildren

“Our estimates are very good…you’ll see this coming in at that $3 and a half to $4 million dollars or slightly above range. I don’t want folks to overlook this part of their commitment. If it comes out less than that, then that’s wonderful. If we can come in with some lower prices to benefit and move on to something else, then that’s great. But they’ve also committed to get those two roads done to DOTD standards,” Richmond said.

Rhodes explained how the agreement came about. He said the CRWC had other projects that did not come to fruition so they had that money available. Commissioners discussed at their meetings what they could do to help and the subject of roads came up. He said they asked their legal advisors what could be done with the money that is generated from a millage on all property in the parish. “We were told Bermuda Road (was an option) because it connects into Shell Beach boat launch and Fish Hatchery Road is a main artery (to Cane River) in the parish and for safety and everything of the people those are the two we decided on,” he said.

CRWC then contacted Richmond and talks began. “Then we voted on it, actually last night we approved the funding in our budget for 2020-21,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said the CRWC hopes this will be the catalyst for other private and public entities to step up and help where they can. “Do you have to do a whole road? No. Whatever amount you could give could be put into the road fund to get smaller areas done.”

“I’m hesitating here because what I want to tell you is something that I think is important that you should hear. What we have here is folks who are stepping up. We all know the problem. The problem is bad roads. They are not good because of lack of funding for whatever reason. It is so good when people step forward and say we know the problem, we don’t want to restate the problem for the 500,000th time. What we want to do is be part of the solution,” Richmond said. He said federal and state governments are not going to step in and are already strapped for funds so the solution will have to come from within the parish.

Richmond said he met last week with a homeowners’ group looking to take care of the road that leads to their group of homes. “I see a resurgence. I see people moving away from the complaining and moving to the solution. Everything is on the table. If it is legal, moral and ethical, you can depend on us to help you in that regard.”

Rhodes closed by saying during Covid, there was an influx of people on Cane River. “It’s been an outlet for people. We’re trying to make it a better place.”

Councilwoman Patsy Ward-Hoover said senior citizens who were not able to get to church because of the road conditions will soon be able to do so. The roads being replaced are in her district.