By Bonnie Culverhouse
A project that will encourage more travelers to exit the interstate and stop in Minden is on go.
Monday, Minden City Council members voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to replace lights on exit 47 of Interstate 20.
“Those lights have been out for at least 5 or 6 years,” said Minden Mayor Nick Cox. “Some aren’t working because they are just old, and some aren’t working because wiring was damaged by a subcontractor. DOTD wants to replace all of them.”
Cox said DOTD predicts total cost of the replacements will be between $3.5 million and $5 million. The state will take care of 90 percent of the cost plus installation, while the City of Minden will be responsible for $10 percent and maintenance.
The state will build the lights but then they will turn them over to the city, which is responsible for paying the utility bills and change the light bulbs.
There are several up sides to the project, Cox said.
“The new lights are LED, they are way cheaper and less expensive for the City to operate,” he pointed out. “They are high-mast – at least 100 feet tall. When it’s time to change light bulbs, you lower them like a flag and change them on the ground, which is a lot safer than having a 100-foot bucket truck in the air on the interstate.”
The mayor is unsure at this point how many lights will be needed.
“DOTD wouldn’t even draw out the plans until we said we were willing to do our part,” he said. “But it will be very well lit. LEDs light up a lot more area.”
It may be 2024 before DOTD can start the project, however, the City was strongly encouraged to get onboard with it immediately or the state’s portion of the funds would be spent on another project in the Atchafalaya Basin.
“The last day of June – which was my deadline – DOTD was in my office with no appointment,” Cox said. “I asked for them to give me until July 10 to get council approval. I told them I couldn’t do it without that.”
Cox says the urgency was to allow DOTD to complete the project while also replacing the bridge on La. Hwy. 531 over the interstate.
“It’s been pretty dark at the Minden/Sibley exit for years,” the mayor added. “This will make Minden look ‘very open for business.’”