14,000 vehicles travel the highway each day due to influx of industry workers
Long-awaited changes are on the way to increase safety on Louisiana Highway 3127 between Luling and Killona.
The changes will include a turning lane and acceleration lanes on both the eastbound and westbound lanes of La. 3127 at the intersection of La. 3142, where Dow Chemical is located. In addition, a cross over will be added across from Fashion Plantation to allow residents to access eastbound lanes, and an acceleration lane will be added at the intersection of La. 3127 and La. 3160 in Killona.
The project will go out to bid in June with a completion date slated for September or October. Approximately 14,000 vehicles travel the roadway each day.
Industry in the area have been asking the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to incorporate safety features into the roadway for several years, but the effort to redesign parts of the highway with safety in mind was a wide-ranging effort amongst many local entities, according to Tommy Faucheux, southeast region state government affairs leader for Dow.
“Both the Parish Council and Parish President V.J. St. Pierre have been important. V.J. has been very good at facilitating discussions with the state, but they can only do so much because it is a state highway. Them and the sheriff and all of the local agencies have done what they can but, at the and of the day, it is DOTD that has to do the changes,” he said.
Doug Rhodes, Entergy customer service manager, said that industry in the area and the parish first approached DOTD about roadway improvements four years ago.
“We thought we were joining up with St. Charles Parish, Dow and Entergy and we thought we hit a home run and they didn’t seem that moved,” Rhodes said of the DOTD. “I guess they had to do their studies.”
Faucheux said the intersection of La. 3127 and La. 3142, where Dow is located, has been particularly dangerous. “We had an employee who was in a fatal accident last year and we have had another accident since then,” he said.
Following those accidents, Faucheux said the problems on that stretch of highway have continued for other drivers.
“There have been other accidents with people in the area since then. The pace or frequency of accidents has not let up,” he said.
Faucheux said Dow employs thousands of people at that plant alone, which adds a lot of traffic to the highway.
“At the end of the day we just have several thousand people who work in the area, so you are going to have a lot cars on the road every morning and every evening,” he said.
As it currently stands, Faucheux said the lack of turning and acceleration lanes on the highway has led many travelling in the area to seek alternate routes.
“I am confident people are avoiding the La. 3142 intersection and are looking for an alternate route to the highway,” he said.
In addition to the employees coming and going from Dow, Rhodes said Entergy sometimes brings in a number of temporary workers that adds to traffic issues in the area.
“At the height of our refueling process we probably have about 1,200 contractors in addition to our employees, so you can get 3,500 people trying to move in and out of those intersections,” he said.
Despite the amount of time it has taken for change to come to the area, Rhodes said he is happy something is going to be done to protect those traveling the roadway.
“We are most definitely thrilled. It ought to bring safety to the industry up and down that road that use those two intersections,” he said.
Faucheux said although Dow is glad to hear something is going to be done about the roadway, they are waiting to see if the changes have the desired results.
“I have to say the work they are doing here is encouraging. They recognized some changes have to be made. It is too early to say this solves all of the problems. We won’t know until the work is done,” he said. “We encourage them to look for further ways to help the situation.”