DOTD offers jury deal on transfer program

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Members of the Webster Parish Police Jury are mulling their options over a deal that sounds almost too good to be true.

During the jury’s road committee meeting Tuesday, Department of Transportation and Development’s David North presented jurors with a scenario that would allow the jury to take over certain state roads in the parish and make money doing it.

“DOTD has a road transfer program,” North said. “There is a road in Webster Parish that is absolutely right for it and that’s Dorcheat Road.”

North said Dorcheat Road turns into state Hwy. 3008, adding that a highway with a number in the three-thousands is one that was never meant to be in the permanent state highway system.

“In this program, also known as right-sizing, the state would sign over ownership, interest in and maintenance of 3008 to the parish,” North said.

North said the 2020 traffic count on 3008, which is approximately 10 miles long, was 134 vehicles per day. Over the past 42 years, it has averaged a traffic count of 255 vehicles. He compared it to La. Hwy. 371, which averages about 4,800 vehicles a day.

“We are short for money, and a road like that (Hwy. 371) is going to get state money for maintenance before 3008,” he said. 

In the right-sizing program, the state will first bring the road into a “very good condition.” North said. 

“Then we will give it to the parish to take it into their system along with 40 years worth of maintenance budget,” he continued. “It amounts to about $436,749.09 per mile in transfer credits.”

North said those transfer credits can be used for any highway project the parish deems necessary, and will be immediately available. It is not specifically for 3008 because, he pointed out, DOTD will be leaving it in good shape. There are other state roads in the parish that will see benefit from the program.

In addition, he said, there is money for bridges above the $436,000.

“There are 7 bridges over that stretch of 3008,” he said. “They are currently set to be replaced in the very near future. With the amount of traffic on 3008, it will last a really long time.”

Jurors asked questions to clarify DOTD’s presentation, including whether the roads and bridges will be brought totally up to date before the parish takes over, which North reiterated is the case.

North also specified that if the parish takes over the roadway and bridges, “it won’t be tomorrow.”

“But there is money available in the upcoming fiscal year for road transfer, and we can dedicate those funds to get started on these projects,” he continued.

The jury road committee, which consists of all 12 jurors, took North’s presentation under advisement, however, they did not bring it to a vote while they study it further.

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