Mixed feelings by council members on DOTD project planned for St. Martinville

Photo: Renee Allen/KLFY

A Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development project planned for St. Martinville isn’t going over well with at least one council member. The DOTD plans to re-surface a section along Highway 31 (North Main Street) to Levert Road in St. Martinville.

DOTD considers the project to be preventative maintenance designed to help extend the life of the roadway. DOTD explains that once resurfaced, the four-lane undivided highway would be converted to a three-lane highway with a dedicated center turn lane to help address safety concerns.

According to the Federal Highway Administration “four-lane undivided highways have a history of relatively high crash rates, especially as traffic volumes and turning movements increase. The main issue is that the left (inside) lane is shared by higher-speed through traffic and left-turning vehicles. Road diets reduce the number of vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points that contribute to rear-end, left-turn and sideswipe crashes.”

St. Martinville councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Fuselier says “we found out through the grapevine that this was happening.” DOTD says crash information shows from 2011 to 2013 some 80 crashes have occurred within the identified section of roadway. Fuselier disagrees with the states information.

Fuselier says he’s heard of reports that show more wrecks on the two-lane road up ahead, than on North Main. “As you can see all these cars behind me will be relegated to one lane versus two,” adds Fuselier.

Fuselier says 20 years ago the state put four-lanes there for a reason. Fuselier explains that there are two schools nearby with a community college on the way.  Reducing to two lanes and a turn lane is a bad decision. “The turning lane is not a travel lane. You can’t get in that lane and travel. If you are behind an 18-wheeler or tractor, then you are behind them,” says Fuselier.

Business owner and councilman Romanus “Ike” Robertson supports DOTD.  He says especially the proposed turning lane. “It will reduce traffic.  Once you have a turning lane; the flow of Main Street will to go through,” Robertson.  “In real business we look out to make business better and if new businesses come in it will attract other businesses to expand.”

“Like I said we were concerned.  We contacted our legislators and they heard us.  They made some calls.  What we are hearing is that they are going to work with us.  We are just waiting to see,” SAYS Fuselier.

DOTD says construction is estimated to begin in the next three to four weeks. In June 2015, the $775,000 project was let and involves resurfacing.

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