GONZALES — A state highway contractor has finished a $1.9 million project to add a continuous right turn lane to La. 30 through the congested Tanger Outlets and Cabela's area near Interstate 10 in Ascension Parish.
State highway officials said the new 1.09-mile eastbound lane between Ashland Road in Ascension and Tanger Boulevard in Gonzales will ease traffic in a corridor that carries 19,000 vehicles per day.
In addition to serving the commercial zone near I-10, La. 30 is also an important link to the parish government-owned Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and to chemical plants along the Mississippi River that employ thousands in Ascension Parish and draw heavy commuter traffic.
The lane is also seen as an intermediate step until the state Department of Transportation and Development starts proposed roundabouts to smooth traffic.
DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, Parish President Kenny Matassa, state Sen. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, and state Rep. Ken Brass, D-Vacherie marked the turn lane's completion with a ceremony midday Friday in Gonzales.
In a statement, Wilson cited the "tremendous growth" in both the parish and city and the need for traffic improvements like the La. 30 project.
"DOTD is committed to investing its time and its efforts on this corridor. Legislative support is absolutely essential to building these types of projects,” Wilson said.
“La. 30 is a critical corridor for the city. The city is excited to see improvements along this roadway," Arceneaux said. "The additional lane should help the heavy volume of commercial and industrial traffic which is important to our entire region.”
A few years ago, as the parish's industrial corridor was undergoing a major boom fueled by low natural gas prices, some plant managers in Ascension had aired concerns about La. 30's ability to handle the future traffic and whether their plants could be hindered from drawing more expansions.
DOTD officials noted Friday that, in addition to the new turn lane, which was completed April 10, they already added a turn lane onto Veterans Boulevard in Gonzales from La. 30, a busy intersection during mornings and afternoons.
The state agency is also planning on spending $8 million by 2020 on three roundabouts in the I-10/La. 30 interchange area where the new lane was just finished. Two roundabouts would be on either side of I-10 at the on- and off-ramps and the third at South St. Landry Avenue, a key entranceway to Lamar-Dixon.
They are expected to go out to bid in January 2020, DOTD officials have said previously. DOTD is also planning more roundabouts on La. 30 when money is available.
R.J. Daigle & Sons Contractors of Gonzales started the turn-lane project in July 2017.