05 August 2008

Covington: LA 21 widening in the works

Nola.com - Widening of LA 21 to begin in the fall

So it appears another badly-congested stretch of a major highway is going to get an inadequate fix. LA 21 south of Covington is going to be widened from three lanes (one travel lane in each direction and a turn lane in the center) to four (two travel lanes in each direction plus a median). If you check the map on the link, you'll see that the widening is only slated to go as far northeast as Marigold Drive. That's about a mile short of the place that desperately needs widening - the Tchefuncte River bridge at the edge of Covington's city limits. It's only two lanes, and even with trucks diverted to alternate routes, it still carries way too much traffic for (essentially) a two-lane highway. Even with the bridge approaches only having one travel lane in each direction (and the turn lane), it still manages to become a chokepoint as it sheds the turn lane.

This is just another symptom of LaDOTD and the Parish Government not knowing how the hell to think ahead. Instead of thinking ahead, they only think about the now, if that! If there's an average daily count of 50,000 on a road with the capacity for 10,000, they'll only build the capacity up to 50,000. Then immediately after construction, traffic counts leap again to 75,000 on a road built for 50,000. (Not actual numbers in the preceding two sentences.) So they're stuck needing even more capacity on a brand new surface and configuration. It happened with US 190 directly north of I-12 when it was widened from 4 lanes to 6. It was congested badly before, and the new configuration still can't quite cope with the traffic levels. It's also the case with the ongoing work on US 190 in Mandeville. At the western end of the roadwork, US 190 goes in a one mile stretch from four lanes + median to three lanes, to TWO lanes across an old bridge, back to a proposed four lanes + median. They left a chokepoint in the plans intentionally because they couldn't build a second bridge across Bayou Chinchuba for whatever reason.

Getting back to LA 21, the rest of it, all the way to 11th Street in Covington at least, will also see widening, including the bridge. That'll take another two to three years, meaning the chokepoint will be worse in that span than it already is. Why not just do it all in one fell swoop?

We wonder why our roads are rated so low nationally, well... this is a prime reason for it.

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