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Neighborhood pleads state for traffic light, state stands by plans for roundabout

GONZALES - An intersection in Ascension Parish continues to create issues and worry for drivers. Last year, 2 On Your Side first visited with concerned residents regarding the intersection at Highway 44 and Loosemore Road in Gonzales. Then, residents were pleading with the state for a stoplight to fix the dangerous intersection.

Krista Madere reached out to WBRZ again a couple of months ago since the traffic situation has not improved.

"It's not safe, it's chaos," Madere said. "Our situation is worsening."

Neighborhoods with hundreds of homes are going up along Highway 44 on either side. Construction at both Conway and Oak Lake is well underway. The additional traffic over the last few years has created an issue for residents living off of Loosemore Road making it nearly impossible for them to make a left-hand turn.

"It's so well-known that it's a dangerous intersection, that good Samaritans will stop on a state highway in good faith to allow passage," Madere said.

She acknowledges that is a bad idea since the majority of accidents that happen here are rear-end collisions from people stopping to let others pass. It's why hundreds of residents have gotten involved and signed a petition for a stoplight at the intersection. Madere has gone before the Ascension Parish Council to fund a temporary stoplight, and it was approved. Louisiana State Senator Eddie Lambert has gotten involved and arranged a meeting with DOTD leaders. Lambert says he's even sent a letter and the petition to Governor John Bel Edwards hoping he'd help in the situation.

"In the mornings, the traffic is horrendous with traffic headed to the Sunshine Bridge and the industries on the river," La. Sen. Eddie Lambert said.

The Department of Transportation and Development says a temporary traffic light is not a solution and will only create more problems.

"Traffic would back up more than 1,000 feet if there was a stoplight there, and so if you have traffic backing up at that location in a 45-55 mph zone we're going to see a large increase in rear-end crashes," DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett said.

Instead, the state has been focusing on widening Highway 44 and putting two roundabouts in place. The Conway development is responsible for one of those roundabouts, and another roundabout would go just south of Loosemore Road. Work is currently happening along Highway 44 at the front of Conway and the developer says the roundabout should be complete early next year.

DOTD says the second roundabout is still in the design phase. It has to move utilities including a gas pipeline and acquire the property. The state says the project will hopefully go out for bid sometime next year.

"I'm for a roundabout, the thing is we need to get this done," Lambert says.

So far, DOTD does not have a completion date in mind.

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