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Louisiana 73 widening project runs into delays

The contractor is having trouble with tight spaces involved in the Prairieville-area project that is also complicated by efforts to protect large oak trees along the highway.

The Associated Press

8/8/2013

PRAIRIEVILLE, La. — State highway officials have pushed back the completion date of a $15.5 million project to widen La. 73 in Ascension Parish to June, making it about eight months later than the original target date given when construction began in the fall of 2011.

Officials tell The Advocate (http://bit.ly/15NW5LS ) the contractor is having trouble with tight spaces involved in the Prairieville-area project that is also complicated by efforts to protect large oak trees along the highway.

Barber Brothers Contracting Co. LLC is widening narrow La. 73 from two lanes to three and adding shoulders. As part of the job, the company has to find space for utility line relocations and new drainage infrastructure within tight confines.

"This becomes more challenging when new drainage structures have to be installed without disturbing existing utility lines and attempting to preserve large oak trees in the area," Indira Parrales, DOTD spokeswoman, said in an email.

Part of the project also involves laying down new parish sewer lines.

The project has been underway since late October 2011. As the work has progressed, traffic has been snarled in the already congested, 2.3-mile stretch of highway between Interstate 10 and Airline Highway.

Ascension Parish Councilwoman Teri Casso said the project "has proven to be much more complicated than was originally thought, and that's unfortunate."

But she said she believes most residents understand road construction can be frustrating and realize that it is hard to know what construction crews may encounter when they have to dig up a road that has been in place for decades.

Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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JB Hunt