Residents concerned over infrastructure along busy highway in Gonzales
GONZALES - A neighborhood with dozens of homes tucked away off LA 44 in Gonzales is raising traffic concerns recently. They're demanding a traffic light be installed for their safety, but their repeated calls for help have gone unanswered.
While infrastructure change is coming to the area, residents like Kristie Pickering fear they might not be the neighborhood's best option.
"I guess what's disappointing is the fact that the city, the parish and the state can't seem to come together to solve the infrastructure issues," she said.
Just south of I-10 off LA 44, two large developments have started building homes. Conway will eventually have about 900 apartments, townhouses, homes and estate lots with an urban town center, parks, and green spaces. Across the street from Conway is Oak Lake, which will have about an additional 200 homes.
"I can't even imagine what it's going to be like," said Pickering.
A couple of road improvements have already been approved for LA 44, to help absorb the additional traffic. That includes a roundabout at the front entrance of Conway, which will be funded by the developer. LA 44 will also be four lanes near the Conway property start, a $3.5 million improvement.
In August 2017, DOTD says it held a public meeting to propose a multi-lane roundabout on LA 44 south of Loosemore Road/LA 941 and widening of LA 44 from two lanes to four lanes between I-10 and the Conway roundabout. DOTD says it plans to go back to the public in a few months to present updated exhibits, based on public comments. The project is still in the feasibility study phase and has not been priced out.
During the school year, Pickering says it takes between six and seven minutes for her to make a left-hand turn onto LA 44 from her neighborhood on Loosemore Road. The speed limit is 55 mph. Each time, she says she's risking her life and the lives of her family. While she's not opposed to roundabouts, she's concerned it still won't help the turning situation out of her neighborhood.
"If the traffic is slower, that's a positive thing, but if the gaps in between the traffic are not there anymore then I think it's going to be even harder for people on the cross streets to cross," she said.
With a 13-year-old who will soon be learning how to drive, Pickering fears if an immediate change is not made, she might have to move her family elsewhere.
"If this isn't fixed by the time he's ready to drive I'm going to seriously consider looking at new places to live," she said. "Just because I don't know how difficult it's going to be three years from now for him to be able to make that left-hand turn as a new driver."
This isn't the first time the neighborhood has become vocal about what they call a dangerous intersection. Krista Madere started a petition last year to request the immediate action for a traffic light. The petition was signed by at least 168 residents who live in the neighborhood.
"We didn't come together to say we might have a problem in six years, we came together to say we need some safety now," said Madere.
Every time Madere makes a left-hand turn out of her neighborhood onto LA 44, she says she feels like she's playing Russian roulette.
"That's all we're asking for, a timed light," she said.
Conway hopes to break ground on the roundabout project within the next two months.