PORT VINCENT, La. (WAFB) - At the intersection of Walker South Road and Highway 16, everything is at your fingertips: the customary business ads, a grocery store, and a bait shop.
The Bait Shop, owned by Phillip Barker, has been at the corner for about nine months.
“We’re the only bait shop around within miles,” Barker said.
With the view from his shop window, he’s seen just about everything.
“Then you’ve got people cussing, hollering out the window. It’s just not a good thing,” he said.
We’re talking about the people making their way through the three-way stop. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) says some 6,500 cars pass through per day.
Barker says it’s “stop and go” all day.
“They’re backed up. Half of them are running late for work. The other half is way late for work, so there’s no telling what you’ll see here," he said.
These state highways are a major gateway for people in Livingston Parish. Pretty soon, this intersection will take a new shape with a $1.2 million project to build a roundabout.
“It keeps traffic moving versus the stoplight or the stop signs where traffic seems to get more congested with backup,” said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.
The state says Livingston Parish already has 12 of these traffic junctions with another seven to eight in the works.
“They’re just the popular way to do stuff now from the state’s standpoint, from all the engineers you talk to. That’s a way of life now from here on out,” Ricks said.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, studies show that roundabouts reduce crashes with injuries by 75% where stop signs were previously used. The parish president says that’s the main motivator: eliminating serious accidents and head-on collisions.
“The other thing is the safety factor. A roundabout is supposedly going to stop all of the t-bone accidents that we sometimes have at these different intersections," Ricks said.
Barker is all for it. He’s seen more accidents than he cares to remember.
“One person not paying attention bumps the person in front of them and that creates chaos,” Barker said. “Hopefully, after everybody learns, it’ll be a steady flow and it won’t back up.”
The state says there isn’t a clear timeline right now on the project. Once the vegetation is cleared and utilities have been relocated, they hope to complete the project within a few months.