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Contentious Shreveport highway extension seeks more public input

Kate Archer Kent

Public input is sought for an unfinished and litigated expressway extension in south Shreveport that has kept public and private interests at loggerheads for years.

Two public comment meetings were held Thursday by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and local transportation leaders for stage 1 of a seven-step process. It began with a 10-minute slide show that provided a primer on the La. 3132 Inner Loop Expressway Stage 1 Environmental Study.

Afterward, dozens of area residents flowed into a map room where four proposed routes were displayed on easels. The fifth alternative is a “no build” option, which Mike Woods favors.

He owns 270 acres in south Shreveport and every option on the table would cut through his property. He says with Louisiana’s $12 billion backlog in road and bridge repairs, it doesn’t make sense to develop more. He says this expressway would devastate his bucolic wetlands.

“We have lakes and crawfish ponds out there. My children and grandchildren play out there, and we don’t want it developed. I’m not here to block progress. I’m not here to block the expansion of the city. I know ultimately the city of Shreveport will overtake our property,” Woods said. “Just don’t build something that will preclude me or my grandchildren from developing the property we’ve owned for years and years.”

An extension of La. 3132 would ultimately connect to the Port of Caddo/Bossier and one day link up with Interstate 69, according to Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments executive director Kent Rogers. Decades from now, according to Rogers, it would be part of a loop around the city -- some 40 miles in all.

“This project, along with completing I-49 and I-69, we become the smallest urban area in the country that has three cross-continental interstates. Considering the amount of traffic that passes through the Kansas City Southern Railway yard and the Union Pacific yards, and the development at the port, we basically become one day shipping from anywhere in the U.S., and that’s huge,” Rogers said.

Comments still can be submitted about the routes. They must be postmarked by May 18 to become a part of the official transcript.

A preferred route will be established at the end of the Stage 1 Environmental Study. Dirt work on the project is years off, according to Rogers.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.