Rayne Mayor to DOTD: ‘Show me the money’

Mayor Charles “Chuck” Robichaux told members of the city council Monday night that he is reluctant to sign the final agreement with the state Department of Transportation and Development accepting Zaunbrecher Road into the city street system.
Besides a large crack that has appeared in the road surface in front of Hebert Machine Shop, Robichaux said there is a concern that the city may not receive the $313,000 it was promised as part of the deal.
That “deal” had DOTD repairing and upgrading Zaunbrecher Road from Second Street to U.S. Hwy. 90. In return, the city would accept that portion of Zaunbrecher Road that is within the corporate limits into the city system and would henceforth be responsible for it’s maintenance.
Part of the agreement, according to Robichaux, is that the city would receive $313,000 from the state that could be used for road maintenance where needed.
The parish would “take over” that section of the roadway outside the city limits.
The council voted a couple of months ago to authorize the mayor to sign the agreement and “they want us to sign off really bad,” the mayor said.
Robichaux said he has been “going back and forth” with DOTD District Engineer Administrator via emails concerning both the fault in the road and the city’s promised funding.
Concerning the fault, Robichaux said he was informed by Oliver that “there is no warranty on the contractor’s work.”
In other words, he continued, “if we accept it, we have to fix it.”
Concerning the promised $313,000, Robichaux said that, while Oliver never came right out and admitted it, “I kind of read between the lines and, flat out, the state is broke and we may not see that money for a long time ... if ever.”
The mayor said that funding was earmarked for any of a number of road repair projects including:
• West Jeff Davis from its intersection with The Boulevard to the waste water treatment plant;
• Oak Street and Reynolds Extension in the area of the youth baseball fields;
• East E Street from Polk to Windsor streets;
• Edgewood, where Robichaux said he was told by engineers that “if we don’t repair that road in the next two years, we’re going to have to totally reconstruct it,” a project he said would triple the cost.
“Any of these projects would be something we would already have done in 2021 when we finish paying off the bonds for the last major street overlay and begin again,” he said.
Councilman Jimmy Fontenot explained, “When we voted to authorized you to sign the agreement with DOTD, it was giving you the authority to sign or not to sign, as you see fit.”
“I feel that as long as we don’t sign, as long as the road is technically their’s, we hold the cards,” Robichaux said. “Fix the road and show me the money and I’ll sign.”
Robichaux said he is scheduled to meet with Oliver Friday and will report back to the council following that meeting.
In other action, the council set a public hearing for March 13 to hear comments on a plan to sell property not needed for public use.
The property is located adjacent to and west of Landry’s Feed Store on U.S. Highway 90.
Robichaux was authorized to sign and submit a cooperative endeavor agreement between the state and the city for the Martin Luther King Community Center Improvements Project.
Robichaux said the state funding — which the city must match on a 10 percent basis — “is moving up in levels” and “it looks good, getting better.”
The city already has more than the projected 10 percent match “set aside” for the project, according to the mayor.
The council also upheld the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Committee concerning the building at 810 W. South First, upholding the “stop work” order and mandating that the owner obtain all necessary permits before continuing any work on the structure.
More on the February city council meeting will be carried in the Feb. 23 edition.

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