An opening delay of Barksdale's East Gate has people on both sides of the base gate feeling anxious, but for different reasons.
East Barksdale base residents are excited about it, because the new gate will give them a faster way to get into town. But off base, people who live along that route are concerned about the congestion the new gate may bring.
The 1.6 million dollar gate off of Bodcau road was supposed to open last month, but the completion date has been pushed to the mid-to-late October. It's a delay that William and Sylvia Andrews are actually happy about. For five decades, the Andrews have lived in the same home, just steps from the Barksdale Air Force base line. They describe their neighborhood as quiet and peaceful, "It's like a gated community one way in and one way out," said Sylvia.
Just beyond their mailbox, a clutter of construction can be seen, making it evident that change is coming to the Andrews' quiet neighborhood where the new gate is being constructed. "I don't like it a bit because there is going to be too much traffic," said William Andrews.
While off-base residents like the Andrews are weary about the project, the 2,000.00 people who live on the eastern side of the base are welcoming it with open arms. Barksdale Civil Engineer Scott Vincent explained to KSLA News 12, the project will initially open to school transportation, getting kids to school faster, by cutting out up to 20 minutes of travel time through the base.
"You know really 18 months since it [the gate] was just an idea to where we are today, it's pretty quick for this type of project," Vincent says the Bossier Parish Police Jury has been instrumental in getting this project off the ground.
Police Juror Doug Rimmer explained that Barksdale has a huge economic impact on the area and the parish wanted to make sure they remain good neighbors. "Put action to our words and provide the infrastructure and help in every way we can," said Rimmer.
But with no sidewalks and steep ditches, Bodcau Road neighbors like David Tuttle worry increased traffic will put their children in danger. "I just don't want to see an accident happen and unfortunately this seems like a recipe for disaster," said Tuttle.
Police Juror Doug Rimmer says he is aware of those neighbors concerns. In fact he is working with state representative Henry Burns to get an expanded right turn lane onto Bodcau Road from Highway 80.
According to Vincent, when the gate opens in mid to late October, it will only be open for a couple of hours in the morning and in the afternoon for buses to get through. As for an expansion of hours down the road, Vincent says it's up to the wing commander and wing leadership to see if there is a demand there to do that.
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