Why the Empire lost its first vote by the Bossier City Council since the body’s new term began cannot be separated from the ongoing issue of the increasing amount of no-bid business it has awarded to Manchac Consulting.
This week, controversy erupted over a seemingly-arcane issue. The Walter O. Bigby Carriageway project, designed to extend the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway to create an unimpeded north-south corridor across almost the entire city, at present requires closure of the Shed Road Union Pacific railroad crossing. Federal law gives railroads the upper hand in determining crossings of its right-of-ways by local roads, whether over or above.
When an agenda item proposed closing this crossing, debate erupted. Having to answer for the decision was Ben Rauschenbach, the Manchac Consulting Group employee in charge of the project. He also has served through a series of short-term contracts as city engineer, a questionable arrangement according to the city charter, for almost a year-and-a-half just after Manchac took over the project. Manchac already holds a contract to run city water and sewerage services.