LSU roadwork almost complete

Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK -- Catarino Salazar, of Boone Services of Baton Rouge, guides concrete being delivered to build the curb of the new roundabout at the intersection of Dalrymple Drive and West Lakeshore Drive in Baton Rouge on Thursday.
Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK -- Catarino Salazar, of Boone Services of Baton Rouge, guides concrete being delivered to build the curb of the new roundabout at the intersection of Dalrymple Drive and West Lakeshore Drive in Baton Rouge on Thursday.

Roundabout expected to ease gridlock at intersection

One of the most heavily congested entry points to the LSU campus is set to get some relief this week.

Workers are putting the final touches on the construction of what experts call a roundabout, which is a circular intersection that slows but keeps traffic moving in one direction. It will replace stop signs and traffic signals.

This one is at the corner of Dalrymple and West Lakeshore, which any area motorist, especially when school is in session, knows is slow-moving at best and sometimes “Gridlock Central.”

“It just didn’t lend itself to traffic flow,” said Jeff Campbell, senior director of administrative services, risk management and parking and transportation services at LSU.

“It is dangerous,” Campbell said.

Many of the nearly 30,000 students, faculty and support staff rely on Dalrymple to enter and leave the campus.

West Lakeshore Drive is the home of “Sorority Row,” and serves as a alternate route for motorists headed east who want to avoid often-congested Highland Road.

In addition, the LSU Laboratory School sits just southeast of West Lakeshore and Dalrymple, and has its own entry street off Dalrymple — Isaac Cline Drive — that adds to the confusion and backups.

Morning dropoffs and afternoon pickups mean a surge in traffic. Trying to turn left or right onto Dalrymple from West Lakeshore can be an adventure.

Classes there start Thursday.

The intersection also is on the route of dozens of runners, walkers and cyclists who use the LSU lakes for daily workouts.

While roundabouts are common elsewhere, they are rare in the Baton Rouge area.

Officials said that means it will take a little time for motorists to get used to the makeover, much like the ramp meters along Interstate 12 that initially sparked questions and complaints.

“It is kind of a cultural thing,” said Roger Husser, director of LSU Planning Design & Construction.

Campbell said that traffic headed to Dalrymple from West Lakeshore will enter the circle, go right and then follow the circle until they are headed the direction on Dalrymple they want to go.

One roundabout already operates at North Stadium Road and Fieldhouse Drive near the Journalism Building.

Officials say the new design mean slower speeds, fewer accidents and a smoother line of traffic without the stop-and-go traffic at typical intersections.

“It is going to make a huge improvement with the traffic flow,” Husser said. “It is not a very easy intersection to go through, especially if you are coming from West Lakeshore.”

The roundabout is part of $600,000 in campus and near-campus improvements, including landscaping at the circle set to be done next spring and a $100,000 LSU sign near the spot similar to one at the corner of West Lakeshore and South Stadium Road.

The $500,000 insfrastructure improvements are being financed with funds from LSU’s Parking & Transportation Services’ capital outlay fund, according to the school.

The gateway sign will be paid for with a donation from Kappa Delta sorority and is set to go up in the fall.

Part of the work also stems from the push to make LSU a more pedesterian- and bicycle-friendly university.

That will include parking changes on Dalrymple between Infirmary Road and Cypress Drive and new traffic restrictions on Tower Drive between Dalrymple and South Stadium.