Goodwood homeowners eye road changes to limit traffic

Streets in the Goodwood area could be changing soon in an effort to curb vehicles cutting through neighborhood streets. But unlike most road improvement plans, this one was crafted, vetted and approved by the homeowners themselves.

Dennis Vidrine, president of the Goodwood Property Owners’ Association, said traffic in the neighborhood has long been an issue and the situation has grown worse over the years as development has increased.

“Take Towne Center, take Jefferson Highway, take the new library, BRCC (Baton Rouge Community College),” Vidrine said. “All of them are bordering our neighborhood, so it’s putting more and more pressure on our subdivision streets.”

The Goodwood residents concerned about the problem include three licensed engineers who volunteered their skills to propose a plan to improve safety in the area.

Over the past year, the group held neighborhood meetings and polled the neighborhood to seek feedback. The finished product, which has an estimated price tag of about $100,000, has been submitted to the city-parish for funding.

The plan proposes that portions of seven residential streets be converted to one-way streets. It also calls for six new stop signs, six speed bumps and lane restriping to include bike paths.

“We’re not trying to cut traffic from the area 100 percent, but we do want to disincentivize people from cutting through and speeding or driving in a reckless fashion,” said Laurence Lambert, a Goodwood resident and traffic engineer who helped craft the proposal. “All of this traffic calming helps aid that.”

Many of the narrow residential roads in the Goodwood area carry more than 1,000 cars a day, according to traffic counts done by the city. Audubon Avenue, which connects Government Street to Jefferson Highway, gets more than 2,000 cars a day.

Vidrine said city-parish officials have been involved from the start and have indicated that they are committed to implementing the plan.

“We came up with the plan, and the city bit,” he said. “They like it; they think they can install this plan economically.”

The plan calls for a temporary installation of the road closures beginning June 1 to test the changes, followed by permanent installation in the fall.

But DPW Director David Guillory said the city has not yet committed to do the project.

“That’s conceptual,” he said of the proposal. “There are no funds allocated for the project, but it is something we’re looking at.”

Guillory noted that there is “zero money” in the budget dedicated to traffic calming measures.

He also said that if the parish agrees to fund improvements for one neighborhood, then “15 more will pop up” asking for funds for their neighborhoods.

But Vidrine said he feels confident that the city-parish is on board.

“We are under the understanding that we’re moving forward,” he said. “Where the money comes from remains to be seen, but this is a plan that’s been embraced by the community and is cheaper than anything the city could do.”

Lambert said city officials told the association to aim for a budget of about $100,000. He said the proposals mostly include inexpensive items such as road restriping and new signs.

Although there are some more expensive requests for sidewalks and curbs, Lambert said the association isn’t taking an “all or nothing” approach and would be happy with even partial implementation.

Councilman Ryan Heck said he’s going to work on behalf of the residents to secure the funds.

“It’s my job as the representative for those people to go fight for the money, but I believe we should be able to find $100,000,” he said. “We have money in budgets for road improvements; we just have to identify it and lock it in.”

Heck said it’s notable that residents, rather than the city, initiated the plan. He added that it could be the start of a new model for other neighborhoods seeking improvements.

“There are a lot of other large neighborhoods with similar problems, and this is a model that would work well for them,” he said. “At the ground level is where people really know what’s going on. I think it’s great that it was a citizen-driven effort.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 14 to correct Dennis Vidrine’s name.