Grogan pushing for a stoplight on U.S. 90

The Catherine Street intersection with U.S. 90 is one of three places where Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan would like to see a stoplight.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

Citing numerous fatal and serious crashes, Mayor Rodney Grogan has asked Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, and the highway department in separate letters for a stoplight on U.S. 90 in Patterson.
Grogan wants a stoplight at one of three intersections — U.S. 90 at Catherine Street, Railroad Avenue or Lipari Street.
He requested the assignment of “a traffic engineer in our area to conduct a study to determine if at least one of the locations meets the requirements” to have a traffic light installed.
Grogan wants a town hall meeting for local citizens to express their concerns about the safety of the highway.
In his letter to Jones, Grogan said that if all efforts with the state Department of Transportation Development fail, the city is interested in finding out what can be done in getting legislation requiring a red light on U.S. 90, much as Jones did for La. 182 near Cameron in Berwick.
Grogan said Jones has been helpful in the past in discussions with the highway department.
“The public is crying out about all these accidents and for the DOTD to come in and do something,” Grogan said. “We have a serious problem. To sit here and not do anything is not serving the community. … I have a responsibility. This council has a responsibility.”
Grogan was not optimistic about getting another traffic study done and a red light put in.
“I can foresee DOTD declining our request,” Grogan said. “They do not think we have sustainable traffic volume.”
Deidra Druilhet, highway department spokeswoman, said a traffic study was done in conjunction with planning for interim work on I-49 South.
“When requesting a traffic signal, DOTD conducts a traffic study to determine if the installation of a signal is currently justified,” Druilhet said.
“To determine which, if any, of these criteria are met, we must first obtain hourly traffic volumes on each approach to the intersection during a 24-hour period, check sight distances, determine approach speeds on each route and analyze the crash history,” Druilhet said. “The data gathered is then compared to the baseline standards for each location.”
Grogan said the highway department has indicated to the city that the highway volume over an eight-hour period is not sustainably high enough to justify a traffic light. He also said that traffic lights could become a problem, rather than a solution, under some circumstances.
Druilhet said, “Engineering studies conducted across the country have shown that unjustified signal installations can cause unnecessary delays to motorists and typically result in an overall increase of crashes at an intersection, especially rear-end crashes.”
The recent traffic study associated with improving the highway to interstate standards did not demonstrate traffic needs meet department requirements for a light, she said. It is not likely another study would be performed before the passing of several years, she said.
Grogan does not think lower speed limits would help. He said Police Chief Patrick LaSalle and his officers deserve commendation for their work in enforcing speed laws in effect and keeping traffic flowing at the posted limit.
“But the safety issues we are facing are beyond what the chief and his officers can do,” Grogan said. “This is an issue the highway department needs to address and do something soon.”
State Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, said he has worked closely with Grogan in trying to determine what Patterson needs as construction of the preliminary stages of I-49 South begins. But, if Patterson needs assistance sooner, he said he will be there to help.
“If a traffic light is necessary, we will do our best to have it put in,” Allain said of himself and Jones. “We will do everything in our power to make that highway as safe as possible, as soon as possible.”
Conversations with Allain, Jones and the highway department have leg Grogan to believe that the quickest and most likely solution will be the construction of J-turns during preliminary I-49 South roadway improvements.

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