Overlay needed before widening I-12 in Tangi
HAMMOND—Although I-12 is being widened to our east and west, Tangipahoa will probably not see any expansion of the interstate anytime soon, Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller told the Hammond Kiwanis Club on Tuesday.
Miller said he does not expect to see crews break ground on the widening of I-12 in Tangipahoa during his administration.
One issue impacting expansion of the I-12 in Tangipahoa is the need for a new overlay on that portion of roadway. Miller said he has been told that the current road bed is not strong enough to support the widening project.
“They will have to overlay before they can widen I-12 here,” Miller said, adding that the widening project will “probably not happen under this administration, but maybe the next.”
Infrastructure was just one topic the Parish President discussed in a wide-ranging update on Parish Government operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Miller said TPG had a “handful” of employees who have tested positive for the coronavirus over the last five months; however, it was “never” on the level of an “outbreak” in any one office. He said several parish government teams developed staggered schedules so employees would be able to work in smaller numbers, such as on the parish road crew. He credited Public Works Director Andy Currier and Road and Bridge Superintendent Charles Terrell with the idea to schedule crews in smaller groups so as to keep as many employees healthy and working through the crisis.
Miller said parish government as a whole has become more efficient with time management out of this COVID experience. He said employees have adapted to video conferencing which has become a norm for communication among team members. He said that has cut down significantly on drive time and time outside of the office for meetings. He called it a “positive” that has been born out of the challenges COVID presents to the parish.
Another significant positive has been the parish’s sales tax collections, which are actually on the rise compared to the same time last year. Miller said that for the first three months of the COVID “shutdown,” car sales in the parish were on the decline. That’s important, Miller said, because car sales typically weigh heavily in the amount of sales tax the parish collects. However, in the months of March through May, car sales were down, and yet, sales tax collections were up, so much so that they have surpassed each of the same months from 2019.
“It proves that if we shop at home, it makes a dramatic difference for Parish Government and especially for the school system,” Miller said.
Miller said that for the year to date, sales tax collections are up about six percent parish wide, although for the month of June, they were up 14 percent over the same time last year. Also in the month of June, Miller said car sales rebounded and those sales tax receipts are up about 38 percent.
Miller said that while he is a “tad concerned” that the financials could represent a “bubble” in the local economy, he remains optimistic that residents will continue to shop at home to help local entities provide services here in Tangipahoa.