In February of 2013, Bulliard Construction began working on the Atchafalaya Welcome Center off the Butte LaRose exit of I-10. Located on the south side of the interstate, the site for tourist information included a new sewer treatment plant, renovation of restroom facilities, and new travel lanes. A plaza to honor World War II veterans, picnic area, and additional bus parking were also part of the project, estimated at $4.5 million.
Tom Bulliard says the majority of the job was a million-gallon-a-day sewer treatment plant and a 150-kilowatt generator next to the restroom that is capable of running the entire facility. Another challenge as a result of the low-lying location was a surcharge off the shoulder of the highway. This involved waiting for six feet of dirt to settle for six months and then removing the top layer to construct the roadways.
The original road is now intended for fishermen headed to the boat landing, while a new driveway to the center was added for automobiles, bus, and RV traffic. Bulliard says the project also included a good amount of concrete paving and brickwork in the plaza area, which features five concrete, brick, and metal pavilions with concrete walkways, benches, and brick pavers surrounding the memorial, in addition to heavy landscaping.
The restroom renovation remodeled a building dating to the 1970s, adding ceramic tile over concrete block walls and an epoxy-type floor. “It looks like a brand new building,” says Bulliard.
Visitors will also notice a new welcome sign made of sinker cypress, featuring a custom engraved plaque and copper lettering. Bulliard says the company searched for three months to find the perfect pieces of cypress, finally located at a sawmill in Opelousas. Made of three pieces of lumber 4 inches thick, 12 feet long, and 18 inches wide and then laminated together, the sign created by Lafayette company 3D International reads “Atchafalaya Visitor Center” in copper letters etched on wood.