Easier navigation planned for Range Ave. corridor in Denham Springs

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Some Denham Springs residents have asked their city council members to do something about the traffic flow around their neighborhood, in the Range Avenue corridor. The fix for the problem hit one council member, while she was in traffic.

"Morning rush, evening rush, there's hardly ever a time when there's not traffic here," said Denham Springs Councilwoman Annie Fugler.

At 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the streets were somewhat clear, enough for two fire trucks to make their way through Eugene Street. But for a man who lives in the area, the blaring sirens was a reminder of how dangerous things can be.

His father was killed trying to get out of the neighborhood.

"He had an accident crossing, because we don't have a red light. No safe way to cross," said Lawrence Jordan.

Jordan's father was trying to turn left onto Highway 190, from Summers Street.

"These are the only two safe ways, not really safe ways, to get out," he said.

The Range Avenue corridor was completed in 2007. Councilwoman Annie Fugler says when that happened, it landlocked the residents who live in that area. Since then, they have been asking for a way out.

Inside the corridor, the lanes on Eugene Street send traffic to the north. On South Range, traffic is sent to the south. But neighbors along the Eugene Street side have no way to turn to the south, unless they take the long way around.

Using Bay Street or Martin Luther King Jr. Street, people must turn right onto Eugene to get to Florida Boulevard. From there they must cycle through two traffic lights and then turn left to get to Range Avenue to drive south.

"We need a J-turn, where we can go south without going to Florida Boulevard to make that loop," Jordan said.

He said that would save 10 to 15 minutes of drive time.

Already on the southbound side drivers have an option to use a J-turn, to get to the northbound lanes.

Councilwoman Fugler said one day while sitting in traffic, the land behind the Albertson's there caught her attention.

"It's not big enough by city standards to build on. There's nothing they can do with that strip of land. I'm pretty sure it's big enough for a road," she said.

Fugler said Monday night, the Denham Springs council voted to approve entering into a design engineering study for the new road.

The project, she says, already has been numbered by the state. That means it has passed the feasibility part of the process. The project has been budgeted for the 2016-2017 year, to be funded by the state at a cost of $700,000-800,000. The city council will put up slightly more than $100,000 for the engineering plans.

Fugler said the engineering plans will start in 2014. She added if those plans are done sooner, there's a chance the state could start its part sooner.

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