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Roundabout planned for I-12 exit

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WALKER - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is considering a proposal to improve traffic and safety along LA 447 in Walker.

Roundabouts, a growing trend across the country and now in Louisiana, have been proven to decrease accidents drastically engineers say. And, DOTD believes the design may be the answer to heavy congestion from interstate and business traffic on LA 447.

Ten miles of the LA 447 corridor between LA 16 and Keith St. are under the microscope of engineers. DOTD's proposal could call for 10 roundabouts, space for j-turns and lane widening. Specific areas include roundabouts at the entrance to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, at the north and south ends of I-12 at the on and off ramps, widening of the I-12 overpass from two to four lanes and a roundabout near the busy shopping area of Walmart and Winn-Dixie.

Residents are concerned about the changes and the possibility of roundabouts creating an even bigger mess.

"I'm not too crazy about it," said Brian Daigle. "I think something else can be done. You're having to basically cut across a lane of traffic to turn around and come back into the traffic."

DOTD says the proposal could be the answer to congestion and safety issues.

"They reduce crashes overall," said DOTD spokesperson Brendan Rush. "They really assist with congestion more than a stop light might do in the same situation."

If these ideas are welcomed by the community, changes along LA 447 could happen within a year. Two roundabouts on either side of I-12 have already been federally funded. The changes will cost up to $8 million and could be built by Dec. 2014. The other proposed changes do not have funding and remain in the idea-phase.


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