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The Bridge Watch:  " News " "Two groups favor Miss. bridge south of St. Francisville"
Morning Advocate May 26, 2001

Baker-Zachary bureau

The leaders of two groups supporting the proposed Zachary Taylor Parkway announced Friday they will recommend abandoning further support for a Mississippi River bridge near St. Francisville’s historic district.

State and federal agencies have narrowed the choices for a bridge linking St. Francisville and New Roads to two locations.

One is called the "B-C alignment" and would have the east-bank bridge approaches north of the town’s historic district and across the southern end of the Cat Island swamp.

The other choice is the "F alignment" south of town, with an east-bank approach between the River Bend nuclear power plant and the Crown Vantage paper mill.

The northern route has drawn vocal opposition from many St. Francisville residents because they say it will destroy the town’s historic ambiance and interfere with plans for a federal wildlife refuge on Cat Island.

Curtis Jelks, chairman of the Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission, a state agency, and M.E. "Toye" Taylor, president of the Zachary Taylor Parkway Association, an affiliated organization, said they will recommend dropping their support for the B-C alignment in favor of the southern route.

Jelks and Taylor are scheduled to make their recommendations at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. meetings of the groups on June 13 at the Front Porch Restaurant on Plank Road in Clinton.

The state Department of Transportation and Development recently solicited the views of various governing bodies on the bridge alignments.

The parkway organizations supported the northern location because it fits more closely with their plans to create the parkway by having La. 1 four-laned from Alexandria to New Roads and La. 10 improved from St. Francisville to the state’s Pearl River boundary with Mississippi.

The proposed New Roads-St. Francisville bridge, which has been under consideration for more than a decade, would be a key element in the parkway.

The West Feliciana Parish Police Jury voted Jan. 25 to oppose the B-C alignment after hearing residents’ comments, while the St. Francisville Board of Aldermen adopted a similar resolution.

"After meeting with the Police Jury (president) and because of their strong opposition, we decided to support the F alignment," Jelks said.

Jelks said he and Taylor also will recommend dropping plans to develop a "mitigation package" to offer West Feliciana Parish leaders.

The parkway groups are backing a bill in the current legislative session to allow the DOTD to buy property with state and federal funds for parkway improvements.

Jelks said the immediate goal of the bill was to purchase the Rosedown Plantation property at the intersection of La. 10 and U.S. 61 to prevent its commercial development.

"What we didn’t use for the parkway would be turned over for other uses by the state," Jelks said.

The Police Jury adopted a resolution on May 8, however, making it clear that it was not interested in the property offer in return for supporting the B-C alignment.

Jelks said parkway proponents are still hoping for final passage of the bill, which is pending a final Senate vote, to allow DOTD to buy property elsewhere on the parkway route.

West Feliciana Citizens BridgeWatch