Widen the Road?

There is an article in the Journal & Courier today about plans for two Lafayette thoroughfares. Teal Road has been the path for SR25 for many years, and it includes shopping centers, restaurants, businesses, and the county fairgrounds along its route. 350S was built around 10 years ago to be a bypass around the south side of the city, but is now a very crowded road hosting subdivisions, more restaurants, Wal-Mart, and many other businesses.

I remember when 350S first opened, I asked the county highway engineer why the speed limit was so low (45MPH) on such an empty road. She said that was because of expected growth, and that it would take too long and cost too much to change it later. Now, with all of the traffic coming in and out of the many driveways and cross streets it is dangerous at that speed.

I had just started my adult cycling hobby at the same time 350S opened. It was built with very wide paved shoulders that made nice bike lanes. I logged many early morning miles on that route. Now, the shoulders have become right turn lanes all along the route, and they are fairly useless for bike riding. I now take other routes across town.

This section of the article caught my attention:

Sherri Cozart says 350 South needs to be widened. She’s the business manager for the Foxfire at Valley Lakes apartment complex on 350 South.

“When I come in to work every morning, I’m petrified,” Cozart said. Waiting to turn left from 350 South into the complex, Cozart often thinks she will be rear-ended.

The road “is very, very heavily traveled and very dangerous,” Cozart said.

(Read the full article here)

It seems to me that if the city widens the road, more cars will use the road and they will travel even faster. Just look at Sagamore Parkway in Lafayette or any of the millions of miles of 4 lane ‘bypass’ routes in North America.

If we want the road to be safer, they should lower the speed limit (and enforce it), add more lights, install speed bumps – anything to slow traffic down. Or, take out all of the driveways and parking lot entrances and only allow turns at the lights.

We can’t use the same piece of pavement as both a through route and a business district. It’s too late to make 350S a limited access highway, so I say make it a city street.

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