LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - As the population in Lake Charles continues to grow, congestion on major roads is becoming more common, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours. This is especially apparent on a busy section of W. Prien Lake Road.
City officials first introduced a plan to widen W. Prien Lake Road in 2017. In a two-phase approach, the city of Lake Charles hopes to expand the road from two to four lanes in hopes of alleviating congestion. The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Public Works committee approved the resolution to enter the parish into a $22,000,000 co-op agreement with the City of Lake Charles.
The first phase would widen the road from Cove Ln. to Sale Rd., and then phase two, from Sale Rd. along Ihles Road down to Country Club Rd.
As a result of the project, a number of residents near Prien Lake will soon see their homes demolished.
“Lake Charles is growing and I realize that they need the four-lane road here, but at my expense,” said Jubal Fulerton, whose home will be demolished.
Fulerton and his wife have lived in their home in Locke Pointe for the last 15 years.
When the project was announced in 2017, the first phase, from Cove Lane south to Sale Rd., was proposed as three lanes. Since then, plans have expanded to four lanes and left some homeowners, like Fulerton at a dead end.
“I got a letter in the mail from an appraiser in Lafayette, so I called him up and he told me that the city was taking our house," Fulerton said. "Back in the Summer (2018) they said it was just going to be a three-lane road instead of a four-lane road and it wouldn’t affect us that much but with the four-lane, they’re going to take this house plus 4 other houses in this area.”
Fulerton and his wife are moving one house over in their neighborhood, to a home unaffected by the construction. While he believes the expansion is necessary, he wishes there had been more communication about the project.
“We think that when the city came up with this that we should have had some kind of meeting with all the people that were involved and at least given us some idea of what was going to happen, when it was going to happen..a timeline, maybe?," said Fulerton.
District G Councilman Mark Eckard, explained why the project changed.
What we found was based on some of the traffic ratings when you add turning lanes..the road crept really close to some houses and at this point it became a matter of --was it safe for people to remain in those houses and would they still have the quality of life they deserved," said Eckard.
Officials said the project will also include more space at intersections, sidewalks and other utility and drainage improvements.
Although, he will be compensated for the move based on the market value of his home, Jubal Fulerton said it doesn’t pay for the time and memories at the home he’ll be losing.
“We’ve been here for 15 years and accumulated a lot of junk, so it’s hard to get rid of.”
So far, the city said three of the five properties on W. Prien Lake Rd. have been purchased and they’re currently in the closing stages on the other two.
Eckard says the tear down phase should begin before the end of the year.