KAREN LAGRANGE COX
Right-sizing is the state providing ownership of an older state highway or sections of it within a local jurisdiction to that local jurisdiction. Funds are provided, either by cash or by credit, by Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to the local jurisdiction to make improvements to put the older highway in good standard. Right-sizing also relieves the state from liability for the highway.
The DOTD website states:
“An opportunity exists to significantly reduce the size of the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), rectify inequities in the distribution of state highway miles among parishes, and empower local governments through the right-sizing of the state highway system. Under this model, state government would be weakened and reduced whereas local government would be strengthened and have far greater autonomy.”
Right-sizing provides funds/credits to the local jurisdiction once per project. The funds/credits may be used to satisfy the twenty-five percent local match required under the State Capital Outlay (SCO) grant available to local governments.
In an interview with Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter, Youngsville is not new to right-sizing. Youngsville’s part of Highway 89, from Heart D Farm Road to the clock roundabout, was turned over to the jurisdiction of the City of Youngsville by the DOTD. As a result of the right-sizing of that section of the highway it is now called the Youngsville Highway.
The city was given credits for road improvements by way of the now Youngsville Highway which can be used for other road projects. The credits received for the Youngsville Highway will be used towards improvements for Highway 92, which was right-sized ten years ago in 2012.
Ritter stated with local ownership of a road, it is quicker for improvements to be done and allows the local jurisdiction to create and implement road design.
Through SCO funds, the Youngsville Highway will be widened from two lanes to four lanes. This will be done within existing rights-of-way and will have closed ditches, curbs and gutters.
Youngsville is planning to ensure that the city’s infrastructure is planned out and in place for the city’s growth, according to Ritter. The city has a paid traffic engineer so that growth won’t out pace infrastructure. Youngsville has doubled in size in the last ten years and has quadrupled in size in the last twenty years.
Highway 89 is also in the City of Broussard, City of Lafayette and Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) jurisdictions. Having three jurisdictions involved with a section of the highway requires an Intergovernmental Agreement in order to do right-sizing.
Broussard Mayor Ray Bourque states Broussard is still considering right-sizing of their section of Highway 89. Although SCO funds were applied for and approved Bourque states the project is currently in the design phase. Bourque also advised “this project is moving forward based on capital outlay funding”.
Regarding Highway 89 Bourque states “The City of Broussard is pleased to partner with the City of Youngsville to construct a new major arterial to connect the top two growing cities in Lafayette Parish. The new roadway will connect Youngsville Highway 89 to South Bernard Road, Hwy 182, Ambassador Caffery, and Hwy 90. As our two cities continue to grow in population, we will need solutions such as the Broussard-Youngsville Connector to improve traffic flows.”
Bourque added “Broussard is in conversations about right-sizing with LCG but has not determined if it is the right choice or not, based on the long-term obligations of road maintenance and LCG would also have to agree.”