Major changes coming to Airline

September 23, 2011 at 9:48 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Big changes are coming to Airline Highway that should increase safety on the heavily-traveled road.

For years, Councilman Larry Cochran has been pushing for a red light at the intersection of St. Rose Avenue and Airline Highway, but the state has said that such a light isn’t feasible. Instead, turn lanes will be added and merge lanes will be extended in an attempt to make it safer to exit from St. Rose Avenue and turn onto Airline, Cochran said.

“At first, they proposed to cut off access where you can turn left from St. Rose Avenue and go towards Norco, which wouldn’t work because people would have to go to Almedia Road and make a U-turn and that would drastically increase the time it takes for them to get to Norco,” Cochran said. “If that’s the case then you are pretty much shutting down St. Rose Avenue.”

So Cochran, State Rep. Gary Smith and State Senator  Joel Chaisson met with the Department of Transportation and Development to come up with another plan.

Cochran said that DOTD officials told him they will add a “speed up” lane for those that are exiting St. Rose Avenue and heading to Norco. The turn lane from Interstate 310 towards St. Rose Avenue will be increased and there will now be a southbound turn lane from Airline to St. Rose Avenue.
Additionally, there will be a “speed up” lane for those exiting St. Rose Avenue and merging into traffic towards Kenner.

Bambi Hall, spokeswoman with  the state DTOD, said that improvements to St. Rose Avenue will take place but that details have not been finalized.

She did say that Airline Highway will be repaved from the Spillway Bridge in Norco to Almedia Road.

The Airline Highway improvement project will begin in March and end in December 2012. Because crews will work at night, Hall said there should be no major impacts to traffic.

Cochran called the upcoming Airline Highway improvements significant but said he will keep trying to get a red light installed on St. Rose Avenue.

“I pushed for the safety improvements along Airline Highway and I will continue to push for a red light at St. Rose Avenue, but this will make things safer,” Cochran said.

Airline Highway recently underwent a major overhaul when a guardrail barrier was installed to keep vehicles from going into Airline Canal. The barrier starts north of LA 50 and travels to Norco where the canal ends. Cochran, who has been a fireman for more than 25 years, said that he has personally seen the barrier save lives.

“In one accident a car hit the barrier and rode the barrier for 50 feet and in another accident a vehicle hit the barrier and stayed there and the rail made a difference in both accidents,” Cochran said. “What it’s doing is putting the fire department back into the equation. Now we can cut out or rescue people from the vehicle, whereas before they would go into the canal and we couldn’t assist until the car was recovered.

“I believe it saves a lot of lives.”

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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