Linda Benedict, Van Osdell, Mary Ann | 6/2/2009 10:58:36 PM
Mary Ann Van Osdell
The LSU AgCenter Pecan Research-Extension Station in Shreveport will not be affected by the alignment of Interstate 69 in southern Caddo Parish after all, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
LSU AgCenter officials received the word through a letter signed by Richard Savoie, deputy chief engineer of DOTD.
He said his department and the Federal Highway Administration have met with LSU AgCenter representatives and "after hearing their concerns, have engaged our consultant to develop an alignment that will avoid any required right-of-way from the facility."
The new alignment misses the southeast side of the Pecan Station by approximately one-tenth of a mile, said Randy Sanderlin, research coordinator at the station. The route is just north of the Caddo-Bossier Port Commission docks, he said.
"The original route would have destroyed this station and the pecan groves that took years to develop," said David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for research. "We want to thank all those who supported us in getting this route changed. The station has served the commercial pecan industry for 79 years, the last 36 years under the leadership of the LSU AgCenter."
"This was a team effort," said Patrick Colyer, LSU AgCenter Northwest Region director. "We had support from the growers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. We also want to thank Dr. Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, members of the Louisiana Congressional delegation, state legislators, the Louisiana Farm Bureau and William Ankner, secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development, for recognizing the importance of this program to the state."
The commercial pecan industry represents an annual value of about $300 million to the nation, Sanderlin said. The average annual value to the Louisiana economy is approximately $15 million, which ranks about fourth in the nation.
(This article was published in the spring 2009 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture