On Nov. 4 a new president was elected and the Johnston Street Redevelopment Plan was advanced to the next level of approval. Yes! Three to five years of road construction may disrupt residential and business traffic in the heart of our community if the council gives it final approval. Estimates are around $6,000 a running foot for the two-mile section from University Avenue to Doucet Road. Proponents claim that Johnston Street is an eyesore, that imposing a smart code will reduce urban sprawl, but most importantly, a higher density of population will effectively increase tax revenues while reducing infrastructure costs. Opponents of the project cite tax increases, the intrusion of traffic through subdivisions, and question the effectiveness of the 30-foot median and its effects on first responders, plus the demise of many small businesses and the expropriation of family properties. Unlike the presidential election, the decision is not yours. Five of the nine city-parish council members, a majority, have the power to approve the project.
Yes, Johnston Street needs attention. The new sign ordinance should solve the issue of aesthetics. The electrical poles and wires are the most offensive obstructions but are expensive to bury. Could we place a small abbreviated composite median to reduce accidents? Would overpasses or round-a-bouts at major intersections increase traffic flow? Are there not greater traffic problems on other thoroughfares? Will leaving the existing lanes solve traffic congestion?
There will be no public vote on this issue. Choose your position and concerns then voice them to your council representative and hope they represent the will of the people.