GONZALES — Roundabouts are coming to one of the busiest traffic corridors in Ascension Parish, the La. 30 intersection with Interstate 10.
City officials just aren’t sure yet how many or when they will arrive.
“I have a feeling it’s gonna keep evolving and keep changing,” said Jackie Baumann, the city’s engineer.
La. 30 is home to Gonzales’ major shopping district, featuring both the Tanger Outlet Mall and Cabela’s sporting goods store. La. 30 also is a busy route serving the parish’s major events venue, the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center, as well as Ascension’s chemical plants corridor.
Roundabouts are circular intersections designed to calm traffic and keep it moving. They replace the need for traffic signals and stop signs.
After more than a year of planning with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development engineers, including traffic studies of the La. 30 intersections at I-10, Tanger/Cabela’s and St. Landry Street, where Lamar-Dixon is located, the original plan of four roundabouts was changed to include three, Baumann said.
Those roundabouts would be situated on either side of the interstate and at St. Landry Street. A roundabout would not be placed at the entrance/exit to Tanger or Cabela’s, and the existing traffic light at the intersection would be removed, Baumann said.
“You can’t have a signal near a roundabout because it shuts down the roundabout’s operation,” Baumann said. “The entire reason this project grew from the city of Gonzales looking at two roundabouts to four and making them all roundabouts is that the signals don’t work in conjunction with the roundabouts. It’s not going to work in conjunction efficiently.”
Baumann said that during a July 23 meeting attended by city officials, members of the parish’s legislative delegation and DOTD traffic engineers, it was suggested that city officials again research whether four roundabouts were an option.
Lauren Lee, a DOTD spokeswoman, said she thought the “general consensus” at the meeting was that the three-roundabout design was the best one, though she added that more discussions about the project would take place before a consensus roundabout plan would be ready to be brought to the public.
Lee said DOTD will remain involved in the city’s project as it continues finalizing its plans for La. 30.
“Moving forward, DOTD’s role is to review the plans presented by the city,” Lee said. “Once plans are approved, the state can issue a permit for work on a state highway.”
Baumann said there are some concerns that the current plan, would negatively affect Tanger and Cabela’s. Baumann disagreed with this view, however, saying that a Tanger/Cabela’s roundabout would make it difficult for drivers leaving the area to turn onto La. 30 during peak traffic hours.
“I want to do what’s the safest, most efficient plan,” Baumann said, “but sometimes the most efficient plan for everybody is (one that’s) hard to convince business owners that it’s not a bad plan.”