LAFAYETTE, LA — Years of detours are scheduled for drivers on parts of Dulles Drive.
The intersection of Westgate Road to Domingue Road was scheduled to close for expansion Tuesday, Jan. 4, but rain forecasts moved the starting date to Thursday, possibly Monday.
This is the first step of a multi-phase, multi-million-dollar construction project which will eventually extend to and past Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
15,000 people travel Dulles Drive each day project coordinator Alison Lognion explained during a town hall inside Lafayette’s West Branch Public Library.
Some of those who frequent the road questioned why they learned the details of a 10 million dollar expansion project on the day before it was scheduled to begin.
“This meeting should have taken place a year ago,” one man expressed raising his voice. “Please learn a lesson. I mean this is unbelievable.”
At its completion, the Dulles Drive expansion will turn a two-lane asphalt road with side drainage ditches and little sidewalks into a three-lane concrete road with subsurface drainage, sidewalks, and poles lighting the street.
Even though it will cause headaches, Interim Director of Traffic, Roads, and Bridges Warren Abadie said it is necessary.
“You have thin lanes. They’re narrow and some areas have large dropoffs, but when the project is done, it will be wide, it will be concrete, it will be barrier curved, so that also enhances safety,” explained Abadie.
Along with safety improvements, there will also be traffic relief with a roundabout and a turning lane, but in the meantime, there will be detours. Drivers are being recommended to take Congress St., Rue du Belier, and Eraste Landry Rd.
Domingue Avenue is an option now but during Phase 1A of the expansion, the contractor will choose to close Domingue to install a roundabout.
“Are we going to have all that extra traffic going through our neighborhood?”, worried one woman who believed property values would plummet during construction.
Lognion responded, “I can’t control the people who go there. That may be an option that comes out.” She also promised that the traffic department will be monitoring how traffic adjusts to the road section closure. They will even adjust the patterns of traffic signals if necessary.
The second phase will be past Domingue Avenue once the roundabout is completed and will continue past Ambassador Caffery Parkway. That construction will provide a right turn lane on Ambassador at the intersection and an extra left-turn lane on Dulles Dr.
At one point Ambassador will be down to one lane to heading South to accommodate the new lane.
“Goodness knows this is going to be an inconvenience for us. Find your alternating routes,” encouraged Andy Naquin, District 2 City Councilman for Lafayette.
It was his and District 1 City Councilman Pat Lewis’ idea to hold this meeting, the second after a mail mishap left many uniformed.
In addition to expanding the road, there will also be drainage improvements, installing a subsurface pipe from Avondale Drive to Old Colony Road and a connecting coulee which will take a lot of pressure off Drainage at the intersection of Dulles Dr. and Ambassador.
The benefit far outraises the inconvenience to the public tenfold, Lognion repeatedly reminded the public. “When we look at good projects, that’s exactly what look through.”