Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Hwy. 79 project stalled

Widening of U.S. Hwy. 79/Homer Road has hit yet another roadblock and may be stalled indefinitely.

Minden Mayor Bill Robertson said the project is on hold until the city and the state Department of Transportation and Development can reach an agreement on moving infrastructure, which belongs to the city.

"The cost of replacing the utilities is exorbitant," Robertson said. "We have already replaced the electrical, which we initiated in order to get the project started."

When it was time to move water and sewerage lines, the mayor proposed to DOTD that while the city will pay the costs, it would be better financially to spread the cost out over a three-year period.

"At this time, DOTD has said we have to pay it immediately after completion," Robertson said. "That means we would have to come up with more than a million dollars in a one-year period, and we felt like that was too much to come up with all at once."

Robertson said he feels his proposal was fair and is unsure if the project will ever be completed.

Susan Stafford, DOTD public information officer, said DOTD is working with the city for possible improvement alternatives along the corridor.

"The utilities are owned by the City of Minden, and cost estimates approximated the utility relocation at $1 million," Stafford said. "The project is on hold."

Once it's picked up again, on the west side of Homer Road the project will begin to widen to a new five-lane roadway beginning about 400 feet west of MBL Drive.

On the east side, the project ties evenly with the concrete pavement at Morris Drive.

Technically, Hwy. 79 is a north-to-south highway; however, the portion that runs through Minden is mostly east to west.

If the project is finished, there will be two lanes traveling east and two traveling west, all 11 feet wide, and one center turn lane that will be 12 feet wide.

Reduced parking for businesses is still at the forefront of issues remaining to be dealt with in the design phase.

The tentative letting date for the project, funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program, had been March 28, 2012.






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