Speedway Set to Open Prior to Construction of Access Road

Wed November 21, 2007 - Southeast Edition

MONROE, La. (AP) Completion of Monroe Motor Speedway is set to outpace a companion project designed to improve traffic flow around the development.

Major construction of the speedway just south of Interstate 20 at Pecanland Mall is on schedule, according to track officials. However, a frontage road extension intended to help access the speedway likely won’t begin until several months after the track opens.

“Everything’s on schedule,” said Stu Bashner, who serves as managing partner of an ownership group that includes about 20 investors. “It’s actually moving too fast because we want everything to be perfect.”

The concrete track will be paved in about a month and foundation work has already been completed on its concession and suites, Bashner said. The grandstands will be delivered to the track in about seven weeks.

“When the grandstands go up, that will be a signal to the public that we’re getting ready to open,” Bashner said.

Bashner’s concern is over the $2.2 million frontage road extension project. The 1.3-mi. (2.1 km), two-lane frontage road extension would be south of I-20, where the road currently dead ends.

“Now we’re nervous about what people will think about getting in and out, and that’s out of our control,” Bashner said.

Funding for the road project, split between the Ouachita Parish Police Jury and Monroe’s Interstate 20 Economic Development District, is in place. But Don Harrison, who serves as engineer for both governmental entities, said construction won’t begin before summer, several months after the speedway’s scheduled opening.