BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) — It’s now been more than a decade since the opening of the Benton Road overpass over the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks in Bossier City.
That project solved at least half of motorists’ train-related delays in the city.
Eleven years later, work is underway on Phase I of the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway, which promises to provide the same traffic relief related to the Union Pacific train tracks.
Drivers now have a better view of progress on the $55 million project, the construction of which began with the groundbreaking four months ago.
It will connect Arthur Ray Teague Parkway heading north, past East Texas Street all the way up to Benton Road, where it will intersect with Citizens Bank Drive.
KSLA News 12 was there Tuesday when Bossier City engineer Mark Hudson briefed the City Council about the carriageway project’s status.
“The good news is a lot of people work on it six days a week," he said.
"The bad news is we’ve uncovered more surprises than I thought we would.”
One big surprise, he said, was a main water pipeline that had to be relocated.
Despite delays, Hudson said that work should be done by Sept. 19.
Surprise No. 2 was a debris field of garbage buried under the location of one of three traffic roundabouts, he told city leaders.
“Laying drainage pipe through there about two weeks ago, we uncovered essentially a small landfill.”
That meant an extra week of cleanup that cost an extra $170,000.
“I didn’t know it was there. I haven’t found anybody that knew it was there.”
Taken together, those two surprises now have the project almost $400,000 over budget, Hudson explained.
But he told council members it could have been a lot worse.
“But (an) $11 million project, we’re still about 3.5%. It’s not that bad. And I think if we can just get out of the ground on Highway 80, it’s gonna be downhill from there.”
If Phase I takes the projected 18 months to complete, the work could be wrapped up by late 2021.
Then will come Phase II, the larger of the two project, Hudson told council members.
“Looking in my crystal ball, thinking maybe we can bid it next June or July.”
As for residents and businesses in this area, they’ve already learned patience.
“It probably be another 4 to 6 months, could be done. But it’s not too bad, though,” said the owner of Texas Liquor Shop, which is near the construction area.
Meantime, the owner said, the store will count on its loyal customers.
The carriageway’s namesake, Walter O. Bigby, was a longtime state representative from Bossier Parish. Published reports indicate he often was described as “The Dean of the House” because of his reputation for integrity, fairness and hard work.