For those old hands who drove to Baton Rouge before the completion of I-49, the infamous roundabout in Alexandria was an event to be not only experienced but to be cussed and discussed as well. Many a driver had the trip of a lifetime the first time he entered this traffic circle attempting to merge without getting run over, and then to exit safely toward the desired location.
Needless to say, the advent of I-49 not only saved travel time to Alexandria and southward, but also thankfully eliminated passage through “the circle.” And for those motorists who never ever wanted to navigate a roundabout again, there is bad news if a shortened and faster drive is anticipated from Benton Road to the Jimmie Davis Bridge on the planned extension of the Bossier Parkway.
Currently the parkway connects Sligo Road to Hamilton Road at Diamond Jacks casino; it is named the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway. Plans are now being prepared to extend this parkway all the way from Diamond Jacks to Benton Road; the extension will be named the Walter Bigby Parkway.
Here is the extended route: continue on the four lane past Diamond Jacks until it narrows to a two lane at Red River Chevrolet on Barksdale; cross Barksdale and continue on the four lane pass the Boardwalk to East Texas Street/Highway 80, which is also a four lane. Then turn east (right) and travel to the entrance of Old Benton Road onto East Texas/Highway 80 and lo and behold—the first roundabout. It will “allow” traffic to literally go around in a circle to continue east on East/Texas/Highway 80 or exit onto Old Benton Road which is currently a two lane but will be expanded to a four lane drive all the way to Benton Road.
Then follow the expanded parkway to the intersection of Hamilton Road and Old Benton and enter the second roundabout. This circle will allow motorists to enter the Bossier City Public Works facility, exit onto Hamilton Road or continue on Old Benton. Hamilton Road will be expanded from a two lane to a four lane between the Old Benton roundabout and East Texas/Hwy 80.
For those that continue on Old Benton toward Benton Road, the third roundabout will be entered just before the railroad tracks at the property owned by Lou Chandler. This roundabout allows access to the Chandler construction yard, exit onto Old Benton Road toward Benton Road , or continue at an angle following the railroad tracks going northward. The newly constructed portion of the parkway will hug the railroad tracks and then cross over the levy and the tracks, continuing northward until it exits on Benton Road just south of the Brigham and Brigham Dental Clinic. In so doing, part of the property of Yor-Wick Construction Company and Red River Studio will be expropriated.
Bossier City is completing the engineering for the park way extension and hopes to have all the necessary land acquisition by this time next year. How long it takes until the “parkway to nowhere” is extended and becomes a connection between Benton Road and the Jimmie Davis Bridge is an open question. Needless to say, travel from north Bossier to south Bossier should become more convenient and faster with the combined Walter Bigby and Arthur Ray Teague parkways.
And while this major public works project will be a boon for some, it could be bust for others as traffic flows are either increased or decreased. How the entrance onto Benton Road with a traffic signal will impact a very, very heavily traveled thoroughfare is yet to be determined as well as the possible negative impact on the patients of Brigham and Brigham trying to enter and exit from the dental clinic. Additionally, all the merchants between the park way entrance on Benton Road south to East Texas/Hwy 80 will lose daily traffic counts that could adversely impact customer trade.
Perhaps the biggest question is how well local motorists will navigate what to many will be a totally new driving experience/headache—that being how to safely get on and get off a roundabout. No doubt there will be a learning curve in the form of auto accidents and probably motorist going in a direction not intended. And as drivers go round and round in circles, there will certainly be more “adventure” driving in the fast growing City of Bossier.