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Monday, April 5, 2021

Walter O. Bigby Carriageway

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New roadway allows Bossier traffic to avoid railroad crossings

What may eventually be a $60 million infrastructure project in Bossier City has moved into Phase II with contractors putting their bids together to win the right to construct the Walter O. Bigby Carriageway.

The carriageway is designed to help alleviate traffic snarls in Bossier City by allowing motorists to avoid the numerous railroad tracks that cross major thoroughfares.

Ben Rauschenbach, PE, is senior project manager for Manchac Consulting Group who is working on the project. “This will become the premier north/south route in Bossier City. It eliminates, for Bossier City residents, being stopped by railroad [crossings].”

Phase I of the project came in at around $12 million in purely construction costs. “When you’re looking at project costs, that’s the acquisition of rights of way, utility relocation, engineering and environmental studies,” Rauschenbach said. “$60 million would be, I would think, a very fair assessment of the total cost of that portion of the carriageway with both phases.”

Statistically, the carriageway consists of over 6,000 linear feet of a five-lane roadway. In addition to the already constructed Phase I roundabout at Highway 80, there will be two additional roundabouts at Hamilton and Shed roads. There will be a 10-span, composite-steel-and concrete girder bridge that is almost 1,700 feet long. “We’ve got over 1,300 feet of rehabilitation of Shed Road, the Shed Road corridor to LA 3 (Benton Road),” Rauschenbach said. “1,400 feet of widening and rehabilitation of Hamilton Road from Highway 80 north to the new carriageway, all of that will be reconstructed.”

Rauschenbach said they don’t expect any surprise environmental problems to crop up during construction. “There’s been a lot of work ongoing to try to eliminate as many unforeseen conditions as we might expect along that alignment to ensure that construction can progress. But it’s just a big job. The construction cost estimate right now is $36 million and some change. The huge bridge, all of that is just very heavy and time-consuming construction.”

Bids are scheduled to be opened on May 4. He said, “We’re still issuing addendums and things like this. That’s a pretty involved process on a project of this size. We have a lot of contractor holding plan sets and interested in bidding — which is excellent for the city.”

The contract is called a working day contract, meaning the contractor will have to complete the project in 555 working days. That total does not include weekends, “mud” days and rain delays.

“Going by average, you’re going to lose plus or minus 50 days a year just from inclement weather,” Rauschenbach said. “I put this project out at least; it’s going to take this project at least two and a half years before we see completion. So from bid opening in May of this year, probably 2024, the end of 2024, would be when we see an estimated completion date.”

The Bossier City Council approved naming the city’s future north parkway extension after late state Rep. Walter O. Bigby. He was a Democratic state representative for Bossier Parish who served from 1968 to 1979. He was sometimes referred to as the “Dean of the House” because of a reputation for integrity, fairness and hard work.

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