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Oak trees, other issues blamed for Hwy 73 widening delay

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PRAIRIEVILLE - A $15.5 million project first slated to finish at the beginning of 2014 has an new estimated completion date because of a host of setbacks.

Highway 73 between I-10 and Airline Highway in Ascension Parish has been under construction since January 2012.

"There have been delays on the project due to inclement weather and utility relocations," Department of Transportation spokesperson Dustin Annison said. "The contractor has been experiencing challenges with utility relocations due to the limited space available to fit drainage structures."

Along with those issues, the DOTD says oak trees have created problems as well.

The agency says workers want to preserve these trees. So they are taking their time when working around them. The delays pushed back the project's estimated finish date to summer 2014.

The company will not be fined for pushing back the initial deadline.

"DOTD is working with the contractor to ensure the project will be completed by the estimated timeline. DOTD has given the contractor additional time due to the circumstances at the job site," Annison said.

Drivers who use highway 73 said they are not buying the excuses.

"They've been doing this for a while you can't blame it on power lines. They've been here. You knew about them. Work around them," Holly Diaz said.

"There should be no excuse. There is more than enough workers so that this should be finished with," Brionne Winey said.



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