HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - Gone are the traffic lights at an intersection off I-12 in Hammond. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is in the process of replacing the lights with roundabouts on U.S. 51.
DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett said the area there is known as a high-traffic area. The decision to put in roundabouts was made for safety reasons and to alleviate congestion. No longer can cars and trucks make left turns at those intersections. With the roundabouts, only right turns can be made.
"It's a pain in the butt," said driver Pete Parrozzo. "Takes me about 20 minutes sometimes."
"Sometimes cars merge into other people's lanes and cut them off," said another driver, Michael Laterrade.
Mallett said nationwide there is a trend to put in more roundabouts to help move traffic along. He said there is an increase in Louisiana with the state in various stages of constructing 28 right now.
According to Mallet, DOTD had received complaints about these roundabouts in the past, but are now seeing the number of complaints decreasing. He said four years ago, the department sent out a survey and found that 63 percent said traffic flowed better, 65 percent said traffic was safer, and 70 percent said they'd like to see more roundabouts in their area.
"People don't pay attention to what lanes to stay in going around. So somebody's going to get in an accident for sure," said Parrozzo.
While WAFB's cameras were out, one driver already traveling in the circle came to a complete stop.
Truckers who travel in the area said drivers need a lesson on how to navigate through the roundabouts. In this particular circle, truckers also said they find it difficult to make some of the turns in the circle. One of the businesses nearby said they had to move their light pole because it kept getting hit.
DOTD said one of the positives is that truckers will no longer be able to hurry across intersections.
"Until people get used to using it," said Laterrade. "Maybe after awhile they'll get the hang of it and it'll be all right and it'll serve its purpose."
DOTD said they should finish up with construction in Hammond by the end of the year.