Officials in Central talk solutions for traffic trouble

CENTRAL, LA (WAFB) - Drivers in the City of Central are finding themselves in bumper-to-bumper traffic. They are not entirely to blame for the backups, officials say there are also people in Livingston Parish using Central as a detour to Baton Rouge. But with all the complaints, Central's administration says new roads may be the solution to the problem.

When The Looking Glass Beauty Lounge on Hooper Road opened, they considered their location pretty spectacular. It put them on a main road and in a prime location to catch potential customers driving into the city. However, actually getting into the parking lot can sometimes pose a problem.

Chauntelle Fisher, one of the stylists, says she gets calls from clients stuck in the traffic outside all the time.

"'I'm so sorry, I'm running late'...we understand that. It affects business and people getting to places they need to be," said Fisher.

Wednesday, the traffic was pretty light. But Fisher says at peak travel times, leaving the business can be easier said than done. She says turning left onto Hooper can be especially difficult.

When it comes to the roads in Central, city officials sum things up by saying they've outgrown them. One reason, according to the city's chief administrative officer, Livingston Parish residents use Central as a detour to get to Baton Rouge. David Barrow says every morning and afternoon things get crowded on Greenwell Springs Road, Magnolia Bridge Road and Hooper Road.

But it's not just the drivers passing through that cause cars to stop, it's the residents of Central as well.

Barrow says the city was originally just a few isolated neighborhoods with nothing around it.

"Well now as we're growing, a lot of these one-way in and one-way out neighborhoods are creating some traffic problems because they all have to get on same roads to get in and out," Barrow said.

Barrow says the city is now having a transportation study done, to plan where they can put new roadways to help get the traffic flowing. For example, Barrow says, they are looking into extending Wax Road to Hooper Road. That should take some of the pressure off the main highways and allow local residents another way to move around the city.

Leaders also want to require new developers in the area to include roads that tie-in to existing neighborhoods, giving residents more ways around.

Barrow says one thing that will help with some of the headache is the Central Thruway and widening Sullivan Road. He says there are also plans to four-lane Hooper Road between Sullivan and Joor Road. This session, legislators from the area are also trying to get about two million dollars to widen Hooper from Joor to Blackwater. Barrow says otherwise what's being created is a bunch of multi-lane highways that lead to a two-lane bottleneck.

The City of Central is having a public meeting Monday, May 20 about the transportation study. It will be at the Central Library from 5:00-7:00 p.m.