Transportation forwards Resolution for Hwy 44/Loosemore traffic signal to full council

Kristie Pickering (l) and Krista Madere

Hwy 44 south of Gonzales features some of Ascension’s worst drive-time traffic.  Industrial traffic along the nearby Mississippi River, more cars as the area’s population continues to increase, and local residents cannot safely access Hwy 44 from Loosemore Road.  Affected residents have banded together to petition Governor John Bel Edwards for a traffic signal at the intersection as a temporary safety measure until DOTD builds a roundabout, and the Parish Council Transportation Committee recommended a resolution in support on Monday.

The resolution, which must garner six votes of the full council on September 19, states that “Ascension Parish governing authority commits to funding the purchase and installation” of the desired traffic signal.  Section 6-07 of Ascension’s Home Rule Charter reads:

An act of the governing authority which is not to have the force of law may be enacted by resolution.  Acts which may be adopted by resolution shall which declares a statement of public policy of the governing authority.”

Added to the 550-signature petition that Senator Eddie Lambert plans to deliver to Governor John Bel Edwards, maybe it will do the trick.  There is a gubernatorial election scheduled for October 12 with a runoff likely on November 16.

DOTD plans to construct a roundabout just south of the intersection with an expected completion date between 2022 and 2024 according to Kristie Pickering, a local resident who has been seeking solutions for years.  Ongoing road construction just north of the Hwy 44/Loosemore intersection has rendered the situation more acute.

Hwy 44 roundabout plans (center), in Monday presentation

Pickering and Krista Madere have organized neighbors, resulting in the 550-signatures on the petition.

“We are asking for some interim measure to improve safety of that intersection,” Pickering cited 35 accidents over the preceding two years and “many near misses.  Waiting three to five years (for the DOTD roundabout) is not acceptable.”

Joel Robert

Candidate for Parish Council District 2, which encompasses the intersection, Joel Robert recalled another petition from “a few years ago” which failed to garner a traffic signal.

“We were told that ‘you need a fatality’ before DOTD would sign off on the signal,” Robert told the committee which includes his electoral opponent among its membership.

Incumbent Bill Dawson authored the resolution unanimously recommended by his Transportation colleagues.