Traffic signals to be installed at Pontchartrain Expressway on-ramps

© LA Department of Transportation and Development
© LA Department of Transportation and Development

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State transportation officials plan to regulate the flow of traffic onto the Pontchartrain expressway with stop-and-go signals.

In August, ramp meters will be installed, and they're scheduled to begin operating in October.

For a quicker trip on the expressway, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development said sometimes you need to slow down or stop before heading up a ramp.

"The effort is to try to improve the overall travel time and the safety of traffic that is on the expressway," said the DOTD's Stephen Glasscock.

In August, the DOTD will begin installing seven ramp meters on the Pontchartrain Expressway between Magazine and Claiborne. They're traffic signals to let drivers know when they can merge onto the expressway.

"It allows traffic to merge in a more optimal fashion so you're not starting and stopping," said Mark Jernigan, director of the New Orleans Department of Public Works.

The state installed the same traffic signals in Baton Rouge a few years ago. However, the signals will be the first in the New Orleans area, and they may take some getting used to.

The traffic signal may have two sets of lights for two lanes of traffic:

  • Two illuminated red lights dictates that all cars stop at the white line.
  • With two green lights, cars can merge onto the freeway.
  • With one red light and one green light, cars should follow the signal controlling their lane only.
  • During non-peak hours, the signal will be turned off completely, and drivers should merge as usual.

The signals will be monitored and dictated by the DOTD.

"Specifically for this ramp meter application, we will be providing constant monitoring, and if there's any adjustments that need to take place we can do that from the traffic management center," said Glasscock.

Since installing the signals in June of 2010 in Baton Rouge, the DOTD said in some areas, travel times have been reduced by almost 20 percent, and crashes have been reduced by more than 30 percent. They hope to see the same result in new Orleans, especially with the amount of slow tourist travel clogging up that section of the expressway.

"We've got a lot of visitors that come in and out of town. We've got the port that has a lot of traffic that comes in and out of town. We've got the convention center that also generates a lot of traffic so with that in mind. We're looking at things to make the trip more bearable," said Jernigan.

The ramp meters are one of many projects the DOTD has planned to help regulate New Orleans traffic.

To learn more about the DOTD project, click here.

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