GONZALES — People driving to Tanger Outlet Center or the Cabela’s sporting goods store in Gonzales could be going in circles if a proposed plan by city officials and the state Department of Transportation and Development moves forward.
City and DOTD officials are conducting a corridor study on La. 30 at Interstate 10 that could lead to the placement of four roundabouts — at both Interstate 10 interchanges, at the intersection of La. 30 with Tanger Boulevard and Cabela’s Parkway and the La. 30 intersection with St. Landry Road and South Robert Wilson Road.
Currently, there are three traffic signals at the interstate and Tanger entrance, as well as stop signs on St. Landry and South Robert Wilson roads. All of the signals and stop signs would be removed and replaced by roundabouts, which are circular intersections designed to calm traffic and keep it moving.
Jody Colvin, an engineer with DOTD’s Traffic Engineering Division, said roundabouts “have been extremely successful around the country and across the state.”
“They want it because of safety,” said Jackie Baumann, chief engineer for Gonzales. “The No. 1 proven fix for an intersection that has issues is a roundabout.”
That’s because roundabouts lack right-angle turns and lower the speed of vehicles, Baumann said.
Colvin added that roundabouts reduce head-on collisions, and the collisions that do occur typically are minor.
Colvin stressed that no decisions have been made yet if roundabouts are the right way to go on La. 30. Those decisions will not be made until after the corridor study is finished, which likely will be by the end of the year, she said.
“There are lots of ideas on the table,” Colvin said. “Obviously, from our perspective we would want to see the final study before we make any determination on projects. … The city is conducting the study.”
City officials said roundabouts likely will be the direction chosen.
Baumann said they chose the Tanger entrance and St. Landry Road intersection as good spots for roundabouts, while DOTD officials were interested in partnering with the city’s project to add the roundabouts at the interstate. She’s hopeful that if the city pays for the design of the roundabouts that DOTD will pay for the construction.
It’s unknown exactly what the cost will be, but city officials said they are hopeful that if they invest $1 million in the project, DOTD would spend $10 million or more.
Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said the roundabouts will improve traffic flow in a corridor that is important to the growth of the city. With expansion ongoing at the outlet mall, Arceneaux said, the traffic problem at that area is only going to get worse without this project.
DOTD is working on six roundabout projects in the state, including one at La. 42 and La. 431 near Port Vincent in Ascension Parish, and has 14 more planned, including two in Livingston Parish, in the next five years.
The roundabouts at the I-10 interchanges would be the first at an interstate in Louisiana, Colvin said, though they have been used successfully in other states.
Baumann said the roundabouts could be completed within the next two years, but an “extra conservative” approach would place the project on a four- to five-year timeline. Having the city pay for the design work should “speed up the process significantly,” she said.
The key to the project, Baumann said, is that all four of the intersections would feature roundabouts.
“If you had two stoplights and two roundabouts, it wouldn’t operate as efficiently,” she said.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved