Major changes for airline in ascension
[Gonzales] – Commuters on Airline Highway in Ascension Parish can expect major construction delays by next month due to a $9.1 million resurfacing project brought on by the Department of Transportation Development.
From La. 22 to La. 74, construction will take over the seven miles to resurface the roadways and get rid of the 19 crossovers that cause heavy traffic and confusion to drivers. Airline Highway is one of the most congested and high volume roadways in the parish with major businesses like Lowes and Walmart making it the most convenient route.
Although the DOTD plans to take out most of the crossovers, they plan to leave 10 and make them into proper and safer turning lanes.
“Every day I take Airline to and from work and every day I almost see and accident because other drivers are not careful,” said Lisa Nickens during the public meeting held Mar. 6 in Gonzales.
Tim Thomas, who ran the public meeting and DOTD assistant project engineer, said that they plan to take out major crossovers like those by Walmart, Taco Bell and Jack in the Box. “In Ascension Parish, Interstate 10 and Airline Highway are the most used roadways. About 24,000 vehicles pass through Airline [Highway] and 30,000 use the interstate,” said Thomas.
Patrick Melancon, manager of Rocco’s Poboys which is located by the Taco Bell crossover says that he is “happy they’re doing something about it, but wishes they [DOTD] wouldn’t destroy the crossover by the restaurant.” He says that he is concerned it would make it more difficult for customers to dine at the restaurant if they have to go through more trouble to drive.
Airline Highway generally requires a speed limit of 65 mph, but in the area being fixed, the speed is reduced to 45 mph because of the crossovers. Of the 19 crossovers being removed, only five actually have turning lanes, therefore allowing more room for an accident to occur even with the reduction in speed.
The construction is set to be underway next month. Surveyors and other DOTD workers are already working on Airline Highway marking parts of the road with spray paint indicating where most of the problems are.