A petition carrying the signatures of roughly 4,000 people opposing the proposal to repaint a stretch of Moss Street from four lanes to two with a turning lane will be brought to next Tuesday’s meeting of the Lafayette City-Parish Council.
Karl Breaux, owner of Breaux’s Mart on Moss Street, said that he will be one of a group of business owners and residents speaking out against the proposal.
“We’re going to ask them to stop the project,” he said.
After commissioning a traffic study on the street, the Lafayette City-Parish Government requested the Department of Transportation and Development to include Moss Street in a state grant to re-stripe more accident-prone four-lane streets into three-lane streets, with a central turning lane and bike lanes on both sides.
Between 2012 and 2014, there were 221 crashes on a 1.64-mile portion of Moss Street, excluding the Willow Street intersection, according to a traffic study commissioned by LCG. That included 70 rear-end crashes with 32 injuries, 62 right-angle crashes with 45 injuries, and 38 same-direction side swipes.
When business owners found out about the reduction, they called a meeting with DOTD to express concerns and annoyance that they hadn’t be brought into the loop earlier.
Schilling Distributing owner Herb Schilling polled the more than 40 business owners after the meeting, and none expressed support for the lane reduction. Their main complaint with the proposal is that the reduction in travel lanes could lead to drivers avoiding the area altogether.
Some, like Schilling, suggested that DOTD should instead widen Moss Street to a five-lane street, like Johnston and Congress streets.
“It’s really refreshing to see the people here come together to fight something we don’t like,” Breaux said previously. “It’s pulling our community together.”
If the Moss Street petition halts the project, BikeLafayette President Jon Langlinais said, Moss Street could get left behind in a comprehensive plan to make Lafayette more accessible for bike riders.
“Without this, Northside cyclists will become isolated from the rest of Lafayette,” Langlinais said.
Road diets like this proposed one, according to DOTD officials, have been shown to reduce most forms of accidents better than any other sort of roadway change. In some cases around the U.S., traffic accidents decreased by 70 percent.
“This is the only way to get such a dramatic decrease in accidents,” DOTD traffic engineer Nick Fruge said at a meeting with Moss Street business owners. “We’d be a doing a disservice to the people here by not doing this.”