DENHAM SPRINGS -- Motorists using South Range Avenue could have to learn a new driving approach to their destination when a state road project is complete.
Mayor Gerard Landry said the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is working on a project to change where motorists could make left turns and how they use the center turning lane — or whether or not they can use at all.
It could also involve removing some traffic lights and closing some driveway accesses to South Range Avenue, he said.
“Safety is the No. 1 issue,” Landry said, which calls for reducing the number of accidents and having a better flow of traffic. Accidents on South Range include rear-end collisions and vehicles being sideswiped, the mayor said.
“People slam on their brakes to make a left turn,” Landry said, while other motorists use the center lane “as an acceleration lane to merge into Range Avenue.”
The proposed project -- approximately 1.04 miles long -- begins 700 feet north of Aspen Square Road and continues north to Bay Street, according to the DOTD website.
The project proposes modifying two-way left-turn lanes, creating dedicated left turns. It would also include signal re-timing, driveway closures, and adding bulb-outs, or extending the road surface for larger vehicles to make U-turns.
The estimated cost of the project is $2 million to $4 million, according to the DOTD website.
Dedicated left-turn lanes were installed in Covington and Mandeville and helped those cities’ traffic conditions, Landry said. The dedicated left-turn lane would be similar to what is now in place in front of Salad Station and Church’s Chicken, Landry explained.
With a limited number of dedicated left-turn lanes, some motorists will have to pass the street they want to turn on, go through the U-turn and come back to their street, he said. Every left turn will have an extended apron, or road surface, on the other side of South Range to help make the U-turn.
The dedicated left-turn lanes would eliminate some traffic signals, the mayor said.
DOTD held a public meeting in November in Denham Springs to present the plan to the public. Another meeting is planned but has not been announced.
At the first public meeting, residents voiced their concern and asked questions, Landry said. DOTD reported, “There was a 70 percent to 80 percent acceptance of the left-turn lane proposal,” he said.
According to the project’s conceptual layout on the DOTD website, a total of six left-turn lanes would be installed.
The first would be between Carolyn Avenue, on the west side of South Range, and Cooper Street, on the east side.
From there, going north, the other left-turn lanes would be at the following locations:
-- Veterans Boulevard.
-- Del Orleans Avenue.
-- Del Norte Avenue.
-- Hazelnut Street.
-- North Street.
A total of eight extended aprons — four on each side of South Range Avenue — are proposed. A total of six driveways would be removed in the following locations:
-- Regions Bank, 1509 S. Range Ave.
-- Iberville Bank, 1441 S. Range Ave.
-- Ron’s Seafood, 1160 S. Range Ave.
-- Denham Pointe Shopping Center, 1121 S. Range Ave.
-- Hancock Whitney Bank, 1010 S. Range Ave.
-- Walmart Supercenter, 904 S. Range Ave.
Landry said he experienced the turning problem first-hand a few years ago when he was leaving First Guaranty Bank. The mayor pulled out to go north on Range Avenue and another motorist wanted to go south.
“We met in the middle,” he quipped.
Fortunately, neither was injured, the mayor said.