BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A proposal to improve traffic along a busy section of Perkins Road is moving along, and while most agree the road should be widened, many worry the plans so far could create another problem.
The Department of Transportation and Development is moving a little closer to widening Perkins Road from Siegen Lane to Highland Road which is one of the remaining sections that is only two lanes. It's also easily bottlenecked. That's not a good combination for a road that often serves as alternative to I-10.
"It's a roadway that's used when there's an incident on I-10, people move to Perkins and use it as an alternative route," said project consultant Cindy Hall. "Our traffic studies have shown it really needs to be widened to four lanes."
There are currently three possibilities and all have a complete street concept which includes a bike lane, sidewalks and a median of various sizes.
However, the proposals use something called a J-turn which only allow a driver to turn in one direction at certain intersections. Some residents see that as a big inconvenience. The St. George Fire Department see it as a possible public safety risk that could delay response time.
"If there is a medical case, for example, if we have to drive past the street, go a quarter mile down, make a J-turn and then come back a quarter mile, then we've increased our travel distance by a half mile," said fire department spokesman Eldon Ledoux.
The project is currently conducting an environmental assessment. Wednesday night's meeting was the last public hearing before that assessment is finished. From there, DOTD will take any public comments and review them before moving forward with the final design. Officials hope to begin right of way acquisitions by late next year.
According to DOTD, the funding for the project is not lined up yet, and there are still several steps ahead. So it could be several years before construction starts.