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Connick, Templet Launch First Phase of Effort to Rid West Bank of Homeless Encampments Under Express

Louisiana Senator Pat Connick and Jefferson Parish Councilman-At-Large Ricky Templet will break ground Friday morning on Phase One of a project that will convert five miles of a trash-infested corridor into a park-like setting that will eventually ban homeless encampments.

On Friday, April 28 at 10 a.m., Connick and Templet, along with a host of political leaders from Jefferson, will put shovels in the ground to begin the conversion of unused land that has fostered a growing homeless problem under the West Bank Expressway into a well-manicured parkway that allows for regulations against encampments. The legislature established the Louisiana Treasury Department Regional Maintenance and Improvement Fund in the 2019 Legislative Session.

Earlier this year, Councilman Templet authored a resolution asking the legislature to transfer a portion of state-owned land under the West Bank Expressway to Jefferson Parish. This legislative session, SB 68 by Senator Connick, authorizes the State of Louisiana to lease the land under the West Bank Expressway to the Parish of Jefferson. The legislation also allows the Parish of Jefferson to seek funding from the Regional Maintenance and Improvement Fund, which currently holds about $4.5 million in reserve.

Said Templet, “Homeless encampments are challenging governments across the nation. They are fast becoming one of the most visible blights that can be seen from our nation’s highways. The West Bank Expressway underpasses have been on my mind for some time now. We will install landscape beds, decorative rock, hardscaping, and new signage. And by doing so, we will have the ability to enact ordinances like no camping or confine hours of use.”

Noted Connick, “The launch of this project has been years in the making. The area under the Expressway has been an eyesore, and this project will change that for the better. We are converting unused land into a beautification project that will enhance quality of life on the West Bank and will even help us improve drainage.”

State Representative Tim Kerner, who helped with legislation on the House side, stated, “This is a strong first step toward converting state property that has been unsightly into a beautified thruway. I am proud to be part of a project that is improving quality of life for all West Bank residents and businesses.”

Jefferson Parish Councilman Marion Edwards added, “Our master plan for this development calls for the parish to consider using some of this land for commerce. With Phase One underway, we can begin to evaluate all other options to use this land more effectively. The work we do under the expressway will improve the West Bank for all who live, work and play here.” Phase One of the development is expected to cost approximately $1.3 million. The estimated completion date for this phase is December 2023.


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