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Left turn arrow traffic experiment at Nicholson-Brightside ends in failure

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BATON ROUGE - An effort to alleviate traffic at one of the busiest intersections near LSU’s campus has ended in failure.

A left turn arrow was recently installed at the intersection of Nicholson Drive and Brightside Drive with traffic officials hoping it would smooth out congestion that builds at the intersection throughout the day.

A trial period for the protected arrow turn ended yesterday, but officials found it didn’t do the job as engineers expected it would. Angelika Ryder works on Brightside, and she says since the arrow was added, traffic is even worse.

“I see a lot of people turning around, deciding they don’t want to sit in the line,” she told News 2’s Ashley Frugé.

The state tested data yielded by the traffic experiment, and they were able to confirm that the intersection did indeed get worse. Traffic engineer Sarah Paul-Edel says the city and state decided the light will return to the way it was by the time students return to LSU for the start of the fall semester.

“The state is saying that the trial is a failure. We tend to agree. We’re gonna remove it,” she said.

Without a turning lane, the turning arrow doesn’t really do much to stem long waits to turn at the congested intersection, which is close to apartments occupied by large numbers of LSU students.

“If they’re not all at the front, then that time is wasted,” said Paul-Edel. “If they are somewhere else in the line, it’s just time wasted that the other side can’t go.”

The traffic problem is compounded by nearby railroad tracks that basically act as one of the largest speed bumps in the city.

“This intersection has been a high priority since 2003 or longer,” Paul-Edel added. “The reasons that it’s taking so long is because of the complications with engineering the railroad track.”

So instead of a traffic band-aid, engineers say more involved steps must be taken.

“There is the project with the Green Light Plan that’s going to add turning lines, widen Nicholson and smooth out the railroad hump. That is what’s going to make this intersection better,” concluded Paul-Edel.

Construction associated with the Green Light Plan is expected to get underway by fall of next year.

For traffic updates before, during and after your commute, follow Ashley Frugé on Twitter at @WBRZTraffic.

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