SIGN OF THE TIMES: Handwritten poster highlights split over Ascension Parish construction

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ASCENSION PARISH, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Louisiana is seeing many campaign signs on the road these days. Most are typed, printed and laminated. But it’s an anonymously handwritten sign sparking talk in Prairieville.

The sign, critical of ongoing construction projects, spent a few days posted along LA Highway 42 — where crews are expanding the thoroughfare to four lanes, all while multiple housing developments rise. It was removed Tuesday morning.

“No developments should have been put on those roads until Highway 42 is complete,” said Jeff Pettit, who started the Ascension Citizens Group and is eyeing a parish council seat. “We’re putting the cart before the horse.”

The sign accused parish Councilman Aaron Lawler of enabling InLine Contractors to build its upcoming “Meadows at Oak Grove” development — a claim Lawler called “bogus” Tuesday. The councilman declined to speak on camera, but maintained in a phone interview that the parish planning board ultimately approved development, not councilmembers.

(As of deadline, InLine Contractors has yet to answer BRProud.com’s calls for comment.)

Pettit suggested that elected officials should have more oversight of planning decisions.

“We’re going to gridlock this whole parish if we don’t change the way we do development,” he said. “We don’t need growth that impedes and hampers our schools, firefighters and police officers.”

Ascension Parish spokesman Martin McConnell says widening Highway 42 has been a parish-wide goal for decades and that when funds became available, state officials felt obliged to deliver, even if other projects were happening at the same time.

“It’s difficult to stop everything while you wait 30 or 40 years for the funding to come through to do the road improvements,” McConnell told BRProud.com in an interview Tuesday.

McConnell says in one of Louisiana’s fastest growing parishes, development will provide a wider highway, more homes and more jobs.

“Happily, these are being done at the same time, and they will be finished at the same time,” McConnell said. “I think people are going to be happy with the final result.”

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