After moving into a new home off Holly Hill Road several years ago, it didn’t take Lake Charles resident Russell Tritico long to realize that a traffic problem was brewing in the neighborhood.
What has baffled him since 2005 is the length of time that has passed for officials with the state Department of Transportation and Development to come up with a solution to problems associated with increased traffic at the intersection of Holly Hill and West Prien Lake Road.
“I noticed immediately that was a problem, and traffic has increased there since my family moved in,” Tritico said.
Tritico, a lawyer and businessman, sent a certified letter to the DOTD in October 2005 to put the state on “notice” that the location was a potential hazard. By putting the state on alert, the chance for potential traffic accident lawsuits getting favorable verdicts were bolstered.
“Ever since development of the Target mall, L’Auberge du Lac, Walmart, Sam’s and I-210 (ramps at Nelson Road), traffic has greatly increased. Persons attempting to turn south off Prien Lake Road onto Holly Hill, as well as drivers attempting to enter Prien Lake Road from Holly Hill, going east or west, risk collision. At certain times traffic on Prien Lake Road is so heavy, drivers in all directions face an obstacle course,” he wrote.
In July 2010, Tritico wrote another letter to DOTD asking if there were plans to “install an overhead signal at that location” yet.
In December of that year, Tritico sent another letter reminding DOTD that safety measures were needed at the intersection, especially since more people were driving on the stretch of road after improvements to Prien Lake Road.
DOTD responded to Tritico with a letter and explained the state’s position on the installation of a traffic signal. State officials informed Tritico that a review of traffic studies indicated that a signal “would not be appropriate.”
“Although traffic volumes on Holly Hill Road are relatively heavy, most movements turn right upon entering West Prien Lake Road. The primary benefactors of signalization at this intersection are motorists executing the left turn movement from Holly Hill road to proceed west on West Prien Lake Road. These left turn movements are relatively low in number during the peak traffic hours. Given the presence of a hill and curve on West Prien Lake Road to the east of this intersection, a traffic signal would create safety concerns through increase traffic queuing toward the crest of the hill (bridge),” reads DOTD’s response.
State traffic officials also said plans for a solution were being put together and that the contract for the project was supposed to have been released for bid in the summer of 2011.
Today, a new hotel is being built on the north side of the intersection. Tritico contends that will only worsen the traffic. “It’s a shame,” he said.
On Friday, the American Press contacted DOTD about Tritico’s concerns.
In an email, DOTD wrote, “DOTD has developed a project to install a roundabout at the intersection, taking into consideration the construction of the new hotel. The installation of a roundabout at this intersection will help to improve safety because of the slower speeds and the elimination of more severe crashes. Operation of the corridor is improved by smooth-flowing traffic with less stop-and-go than a signalized intersection.”