Safety at Walker traffic circle concerns residents, officials
WALKER- Officers are no longer directing traffic at a new Livingston Parish roundabout that has vehicles backing up onto Interstate 12, according to Walker Police Captain John Sharp.
"What we had been doing was blocking the south bound lane of [Highway 447] periodically to clear the [interstate] ramp," Sharp said. "Otherwise we risk having a 75 mile per hour rear-end collision on the interstate."
Walker Police stopped directing traffic last week at the request of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. According to Sharp, DOTD wants drivers to figure out the roundabout without their assistance.
"It was not an order, it's a request and we certainly want to cooperate with them," he said.
Sharp said he's noticed traffic has backed up even worse on the eastbound lanes of I12 since they've stopped their operation. The roundabout is still under construction and he said the problem may resolve itself after the inner lane of the circle is opened in a few weeks.
Sharp, along with many drivers who frequent the intersection, say the circle appears to be too small to handle all the traffic coming off the interstate.
"There were probably some other alternatives that would have been more effective but were more costly," commuter Ernest Marzahl said.
DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett said the state is building several roundabouts at intersections throughout the region. The design takes some getting used to, but in the long run it eases congestion and reduces accidents.
He said polls conducted by the agency show drivers at the other roundabouts do prefer them over the previous intersections.
"We will continue to monitor the Walker location and will continue to work with local law enforcement," Mallett said in an email Tuesday.
Sharp said Walker Police may decide to direct traffic again at the circle against the wishes of DOTD if they feel it's in the best interest of public safety.
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