LAFAYETTE — Left turns onto U.S. 90 are being phased out at some major intersections in a move that state and local transportation officials say could reduce crashes and congestion.
Left turns were eliminated last month for motorists approaching U.S. 90 from University Avenue, and motorists approaching U.S. 90 on Morgan Avenue were required to turn right starting Thursday.
A similar change is planned to go into effect Tuesday at the high-traffic intersection of U.S. 90 and Albertson Parkway in Broussard, where motorists approaching the highway from Albertson Parkway will be required to turn right.
At all three of the intersections, motorists who would normally turn left or go straight are directed to first turn right and then travel down the highway and make a U-turn to go in the other direction — a series of movements that traffic engineers refer to as a J-turn.
The goal is to cut the number of crashes involving motorists crossing all lanes of U.S. 90 to go left or straight and to keep traffic flowing smoothly on the highway, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman Deidra Lockhart said.
The changes are being made as part of a larger project to widen U.S. 90 from four to six lanes between Pinhook Road in Lafayette and Broussard.
Lockhart said the widening project is expected to be completed this fall.
The project also involves limiting left turns and access at other smaller intersections along U.S. 90, including a change set to go into effect Monday that will block access to the highway on the east side of the Verot School Road intersection, according to information from DOTD.
Drivers might be skeptical of the redesigned intersections, but cutting the number of left turns and access points along U.S. 90 should make traffic flow more safely and smoothly, Lafayette City-Parish Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel said.
His department is not overseeing the U.S. 90 project but has participated in the planning.
“People are creatures of habit, and many people don’t like changes,” Tramel said. “But the facts are that it is safer and it generally reduces (travel) time.”
Tramel said the reconfigured intersections will be one more change that could help reduce congestion on U.S. 90, along with the widening to six lanes set to be completed this year and the new southern stretch of Ambassador Caffery Parkway that offers a four-lane alternative for some drivers who might otherwise take U.S. 90.
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