GONZALES, La. (WAFB) - Highways can often be dangerous, especially when construction is added to the mix.
Joel Robert lives off Highway 44 in Gonzales. He says part of the highway near Conway Village is almost too dangerous to travel after construction to expand the road began several months ago.
“You have traffic going up and down this highway, including a lot of heavy industrial traffic. If anyone were to have an accident or go off of the road where a shoulder should be, they’re dropping three or four foot,” said Robert.
Robert says many of the people who live in the area fear the elevation difference between the road and where work is being done could be dangerous for drivers. He says it’s especially dangerous where areas of the road appear to be deteriorating.
Barney Arceneaux, mayor of Gonzales, says the city agreed to help fund some the project, however, the work is being done between the Conway Village Subdivision and a private contractor. He says the city is prepared to step in after recent complaints.
“Maybe there needs to be a little bit more inspection out there or watch a little bit more closely. I was under the impression that was being done, but yes, I think if we can get out there on maybe a daily basis, especially with all the traffic that’s out there right now,” said Mayor Arceneaux.
Robert says he hopes the extra attention will help resolve some of the issues.
“For citizens to have to call in and make all of this fuss to actually do something about it is crazy. I understand progress is progress and we need to move forward and we need to do roads, but we have to do this right,” said Robert.
Crews have already begun working to correct portions of the highway.
Southern Lifestyle Development is the engineering group for the project. Prescott Bailey, area president, says many of the issues were there before the company began construction.
“Highway 44 is an older road, and part of the reason it’s being improved and expanded is because it just no longer has the capacity for the traffic counts that are on it. It already had some issues, it already had some cracking,” said Bailey
Bailey says the company knew there would be some “bumps in the road” when they signed up for the project.
“As soon as we found out about the cracking that’s getting worse in the roadway, we overlaid it with asphalt, so we’ve already done a full overlay of all the cracking areas with a new coat of asphalt, so there’s no more issues there. The area on the side where there was a little bit of base, kind of failure, that was leading to some of that cracking, we’ve fixed that, replaced that base to keep it from having anymore failures,” said Bailey.