The town of Welsh is on track to receive $500,000 in state funding to extend Frontage Road off Interstate 10, which officials hope will spur economic development in the area.
The money is in Priority 2 of the state’s capital expenditure budget, according to state Rep. Troy Romero. Romero addressed the council this week about upcoming road projects in the area.
“The $500,000 was placed in Priority 2 of the state’s capital expenditure plan at the request of the city to expand the service road from East Joseph to La. 99 and open a corridor that would provide l space for people to sit. retail space along the freeway,” Romero said.
“It’s in priority 2, which means it’s still waiting for funding, but hopefully there might be some dollars available before the end of the year where you can take that money and start to specify this project and do the engineering,” Romero continued. “Then the money will follow to be able to do the job.”
The project will begin at the I-10 exit and travel east to Joseph Street and connect to the other Frontage Road which is currently a dead end.
“It’s something I’ve been trying to do since I took office,” Mayor Karl Arceneaux said. “It could be our own little center of power in Welsh.”
Arceneaux said the initial funding is intended to cover design and survey costs. Additional funding for construction, which would be a virtual certainty, would likely follow within two years, he said.
The city plans to use part of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds corresponding to down payment funds.
The fact that the initial money is placed in the Priority 2 plan means that the project is a little closer to reality, Arceneaux said.
“I think it’s our best chance for economic development because most of the national chains that want to come into Welsh want to be on I-10, whether it’s a Sonics or a big box store,” Arceneaux said. .
He said the local John Deere dealer was looking to move out of town because no large properties were available.
“If this frontage road had been in place, we probably could have kept them here,” he said.
Nearly 61 acres would be available for development once the road opens, Arceneaux said. The property will be available at fair market value and will be divided as needed for future businesses, he said.
“That would be a big bonus for the town because there really isn’t any property on the main street in Welsh when you come out that’s deep enough for a decently sized business,” he said.
In other road projects, Romero said efforts to repair the Welsh Viaduct were underway after three years.
“I think it’s going to change the look of the town of Welsh as you approach the highway,” Romero said. “It will give you a nicer place to look when you go out.”
The city is also currently working to secure a grant to install new LED lights on the exit ramps. A similar project is being sought in Jennings.
“Cities are turning to LEDs that cost less to run,” Romero said. “They also last longer and they look a lot better.”
In other local road projects, Romero said the new Bayou Bridge west of the US 90 and La. 26 intersection between Jennings and Roanoke is expected to be completed this fall. The bridge has been closed since May to allow crews to replace the bridge.
An overlay project is currently underway on La. 102 from Hathaway High School to La. 99.
The project is expected to be completed in two months, according to Ministry of Transport and Development staff.
Romero said the district also received $2.4 million to fund additional road improvements, including US 90 from Elizabeth Street in Welsh to La. 382 between Welsh and Roanoke.
Other future projects would include roadwork on US 90 in Jennings from the foot of the upper bridge to the intersection of Shankland and Cutting Avenue in Jennings and from the corner of La. 97 and Cutting Avenue south to Rd. railroad on US 90 in Jennings. No dates have been set for the projects.