POSTED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 6:49pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 6:57pm
WEST BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — People who cross the La 1 and Sugar Plantation Pkwy intersection in Addis want to keep a temporary red light they spent months fighting. They believe the light is making the dangerous location safer for drivers. However, there's one problem still causing headaches and lost time.
"I would love for them to keep up the light it would be much safer for most people who live back here in my community, also just make it a little quicker so you won't be late for work," Lashonda Veal, a resident who lives near the intersection, said.
Before the light, the intersection was the site of several fatal crashes. Last spring the State Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) added a temporary light at the intersection.
"I love the light," Kendrick Whaley, who drives through the intersection daily, said. "One thing I love about the light is you can't go any direction unless the light gives you the green light to go. I think that's very important, because people are always making a hasty decision so the light kind of controls that."
Residents consider it a step up from the originally proposed j-turn.
"Why would you turn 270 degrees to make a 90 degree turn," Stephen Jackson, who works near the intersection. "Now what happens when your j-turn fills up what happens; when the left lane fills up? What happens when someone in the right lane wants to get in the left lane to get into the j-turn and stops then nothing moves?"
Still, DOTD says the red light is just a temporary fix, and the controversial j-turn is still a possible option.
"A j-turn is definitely not out of the question," Amber Leach, with the DOTD, explained. "We kind of did a step back after this and said what can we do to benefit the whole corridor."
DOTD launched a new study into the 10 mile stretch of La 1 from Port Allen to Plaqumine looking into traffic flow and safety along the entire corridor. Leach said there is more work to be done before a decision gets made.
"The traffic signal is not going down at this time. It's there for now and whatever depends on what comes out of that study."
However, many believe the plan will not work for the entire community.
"That's not fair at all because they don't live back here," Veal said. "I mean, you have to live back here to understand the weight of the light."
Residents believe the study is a waste of time because the solution is flashing right in front of them.
"They will produce studies, but studies are like anything; you can make it say what you want to depending on how you interpret the results," Jackson exclaimed.
The only problem, however, is timing.
"I think that the way this light was engineered it was not engineered to move traffic," Jackson said. "It was engineered to cut down on the public protest that was going on at the time because of the amount of fatalities here."
Drivers say sometimes the wait can be up to twenty minutes to get through the controversial intersection.
"I don't understand [the wait]," Whaley said in frustration. "Why? If I knew the reason why, then maybe I could bare with it a little better. But, not knowing why I got to sit there to wait for four or five light changes, before I get the actual arrow can be quite frustrating."
The solution, they say, is simple: Keep the light and fix the signal lengths.
"They talk about moving traffic," Jackson explained. "Well, if your lights aren't interconnected, where you could move a platoon or a group of traffic and keep it moving, you are defeating your whole purpose."
DOTD officials said results from the La 1 corridor study should be complete by summer 2013. They say they will host meetings in the future to get community input.