A section of Bertrand Drive just north of Johnston Street has gone on a diet.
Road crews this week restriped a small stretch of Bertrand between Johnston Street and North College Road, bringing four lanes down to two with a center turning lane and new bike lanes on the side.
The change, sometimes called a “road diet,” is meant to improve safety and make the road more inviting for bicyclists and pedestrians.
It’s the first step in a more extensive makeover being eyed for that area of Bertrand, and there has been talk of new sidewalks, landscaping and street parking.
City-Parish Public Works Director Tom Carroll said the Bertrand makeover is still in the design stage but that he believes it could show how streetscape projects, like the one that transformed the core of downtown in the 1990s, can be brought to other areas of the city. “It’s a good place to try to capture what we have downtown, just make it more user friendly than it is now,” Carroll said.
The Bertrand lane reductions come as a similar state Department of Transportation and Development project planned for a portion of Moss Street has attracted widespread opposition.
At Tuesday’s City-Parish Council meeting, critics of the Moss Street project presented a petition to the council with the signatures of roughly 4,000 people opposing the changes.
Several business owners told council members they feared the lane reductions on Moss Street would tie up traffic and drive away customers.
DOTD spokeswoman Deidra Druilhet said no decision has been made on whether the Moss Street project will move forward.
The Bertrand lane reductions, which were proposed two years ago but just completed this week, were not as contentious.
City-Parish Councilman Bruce Conque, who represents the Bertrand area, said he has received only a handful of negative comments about the changes.
If the project proves problematic, he said, it will be easy enough to restripe the roadway.
“If it proves to not be as expected, we can always go back and undo it. This is just the striping of a roadway,” he said.