Congestion help cornered for Hemlock intersection

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — The intersection of Airline Highway and Hemlock Drive is the next LaPlace intersection targeted by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for drastic traffic flow improvements.

The intersection is less than half a mile from the site of this year’s now completed project at the intersection of Belle Terre Boulevard and Airline Highway.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said the improvements at Hemlock have “been a long time coming” and should start in early 2015. According to the DOTD, the project is designed to improve safety and capacity and involves many improvements, including constructing a right turn lane for drivers turning from Hemlock Street to Airline Highway eastbound.

Robottom and the St. John the Baptist Parish Council discussed several traffic flow issues at the intersection during a recent Council meeting, including the stacking of traffic in the lane to turn right onto Airline Highway and frequent accidents from motorists turning right onto Hemlock Drive from Airline Highway only to take another sudden right to turn to pull into the fast food restaurants.

District 7 Councilwoman Cheryl Millet said she was happy to see the project progressing, but was concerned about how school traffic would be impacted with construction. Hemlock Drive serves as an access street to St. Joan of Arc and John L. Ory schools. She mentioned the possibility of the roadwork taking place during the summer.

Robottom said because the project will last longer than three months it could not be done exclusively in the summer. She said she would talk to project managers to see if the majority of work could be completed at night.

Division B Councilwoman at Large Jaclyn Hotard asked if any of the roadwork would focus on straightening the alignment between Hemlock and Carrollwood Drive. Robottom said the project would address the alignment issue.

The intersection project, with a price tag of over $750,000, is being largely funded by the DOTD. The parish will be responsible for $152,2000, which Communications Director Paige Falgoust said will come from the 2009 Bond Issue.

At the meeting, the Council unanimously authorized a contract with Buchart Horn Inc. in the amount of $20,385 for construction administration of the intersection’s improvements.

“This is a joint project with the Department of Transportation and Development and will ensure the project is built to the specifications and assist with management of traffic flow and communications with motorists,” Robottom said. “More information will be released by DOTD and the parish as the project progresses.”

According to officials, $19,094 of the contract’s funding is available from the original design budget, with the remaining $1,291 of the contract to be funded through Public Works’ budget.