City planning several traffic projects

Published 8:32 am Monday, September 8, 2014

The City of Bogalusa has major plans in the works to alleviate some of the city’s major traffic hazards.

Immediate plans call for work at three sites around Willis Avenue. Long-range plans are for a type of intersection similar to a roundabout at Carolina and Louisiana avenues.

“These things came about after working on our comprehensive resiliency plan,” Bogalusa Director of Personnel Sandy Bloom said. “It is part of the plan for the next 20 years, so we have a guide to follow.”

Bloom explained what is in store for Simmons Boulevard.

“Simmons Boulevard is primarily used for trucks with long logs,” Bloom said. “What we’re trying to do is make it safer for everybody. The first thing we want to do is bring all traffic from the paper mill onto Simmons Boulevard. This project gives a free flow of traffic of trucks leaving the paper mill. They’ll have a protected right turn from Simmons Boulevard onto Willis Avenue.”

To partially fund the project, Bloom said the City has applied for a Traffic Safety Grant.

Bloom said the city also plans to extend Willis Avenue.

“Trucks are having to go to Martin Luther King Drive on East Second Street to get to Highway 21. We’re proposing to extend Willis Avenue. So instead of trucks turning onto Martin Luther King, trucks would go straight out to the Willis Avenue extension,” Bloom said.

At the intersection of Willis and Columbia Street, Bloom said plans call for extending the roadway straight through to Louisiana Highway 21.

“That makes easier access for trucks going in and out of the mill, plus it’s much safer for our citizens as well as drivers,” Bloom said.

Bloom said the city has also applied for a Road Safety Project Grant. The project was assigned a project manager by the Louisiana Department of Transportation Development.

“We anticipate plans to be in place within the next year,” Bloom said. “It will take acquisition of property. We’ll identify the owners, have it appraised and make them an offer. It’s all bottom land, so I don’t think any residents will be displaced by this.”

Bloom said another long-term project is in the works to improve traffic flow on Louisiana Avenue.

“At Carolina and Louisiana avenues intersection, we have terrible flow of traffic,” she said. “The plan gives Carolina Avenue the right-of-way instead of Louisiana. It will be kind of like a roundabout as Louisiana Avenue will have to yield.”

Bloom cited a study concerning traffic flow in the area.

“The informal study that we did showed 58 percent of traffic on Highway 10 avoids that intersection. They avoid Carolina Avenue and turn on Austin Street and then turn onto Louisiana,” Bloom said. “We’re trying to make it easier for traffic to flow in that area.”

Bloom said Johnny Bordelon of J.V. Burkes & Associates developed the concepts. She said the DOTD will do the engineering work.

“We’re hoping that within the next two years we can have Willis Avenue completed,” Bloom said. “Carolina Avenue is a longer project.”

Bloom said Sixth Street going to the International Paper Box Plant will also be widened.

“The state will widen that area to make it more accessible for trucks going in and out of the box plant,” Bloom said.

While these projects will each take some to complete, Bloom said residents can soon look for improvements to Austin Street.

“We will start resurfacing Austin Street very soon in a cooperative endeavor with the parish,” Bloom said. “We will use some of their employees and equipment along with ours. We will make sidewalks and drainage improvements beginning within the next month.”