BATON ROUGE - A long-awaited expansion of LA 42 in Ascension Parish began Tuesday as crews start the initial phase of the upgrade.

"Today is a dream come true, that I've waited 19 years, seven months, and five days for," said Loretta Templet, who lost her daughter during a traffic crash on LA 42 nearly two decades ago. Her nephew and his friend was also killed in the crash.

"It makes their deaths, that Mandy did not die in vain, that they had a purpose, and if it was to save lives, and I had to fight for it, then so be it, I would've taken my last breath to get highway 42 safe for us, in her memory," said Templet.

The project will expand 42 from two to four lanes including a bike lane and sidewalk on either side of the highway.

The road work is may impact local businesses, but it's a risk many are willing to take.

"Construction historically tends to make people take another route if possible, so there may be a small decline, but I think that the benefits of the final product will be good for business and the community," said Lauren Cappo, who owns Galvez Seafood.

The project's initial phase should be finished by the end of the year and the entire expansion should be completed by the summer of 2016.

Image: WBRZ