NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Ramp meters that control access to busy roadways and help reduce congestion were supposed to be online in New Orleans months ago.
But that has not happened, and FOX 8 News asked the state Department of Transportation and Development for answers on why the so called "stop and go" lights aren't in place yet.
Drivers who made their way to the on-ramp for the U.S. 90/Pontchartrain Expressway, officially the Rev. Avery C. Alexander Expressway, hoped what awaited them on the span was not the usual traffic headaches.
"Yeah, sometimes it gets real heavy, at a certain time of the day it gets real bad," said one driver.
"Pain in the butt," added another.
D.O.T.D announced last summer that "stop and go" signal lights would be installed at seven locations along the roadway from Tchoupitoulas to Claiborne Avenue.
They were supposed to be online in October.
Chris Morvant is the D.O.T.D District Administrator for the New Orleans area.
"It's not a delay, it's just a process, the construction process of submittals, making sure that they are going to install the products that we specified, that they meet our specifications," said Morvant.
"They're already designed, they're in construction, it just began the construction process," said Morvant.
The ramp meters are used in numerous other states, and are already in use in Baton Rouge.
The state transportation department's website says the 2010 installation of the devices in Baton Rouge has reduced travel times from 15 to 19 percent during the morning and evening drive periods.
"Yeah, it controls the number of vehicles that are entering the expressway in a more orderly fashion, so that you create gaps in the traffic for easier merging," Morvant stated.
DOTD said the costs of the project for the New Orleans area is $1.8 million, but the bulk of it will be paid for with $1.5 million in federal funds.
Drivers in New Orleans were mixed in their opinion on whether their traffic troubles would be alleviated by the planned "controlled" access to the expressway.
"Anything that'll eliminate traffic will be great," said one driver.
"I think that will cause more congestion. I think it'll be a big clog-up," said another.
"It'll help, it'll help, it'll stop the accidents," stated yet another driver.
DOTD would be able to monitor traffic patterns and the signals would be turned off during non-peak traffic times.
"If everything goes as planned, we expect the meters to be turned on by the end of the year, calendar year," said Morvant.