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How ironic: Broome traffic relief program moving forward … but slowly

The Broome administration has received the green light from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to use a portion of its state road transfer credits to help fund a traffic mitigation plan that centers on giving the city-parish greater control over green light cycles along Baton Rouge’s most congested streets.

The plan is to lay fiber optic cables and install signal light control software at 120 traffic signals on 16 highly congested thoroughfares throughout the parish. It won’t all happen at once, however, as DOTD is only allowing the parish to use up to $4 million of the $15 million in road transfer credits available this year.

“You can’t just grab all $15 million at once,” says Director of Transportation and Drainage Fred Raiford. “I think I’ll be able to get all $15 million but it will be over three years.”

In 2016, the city-parish began assuming maintenance of certain state-owned thoroughfares that run through the parish. In return, it receives credits that can be used to procure maintenance services through DOTD. The credits can also be turned into cash for other types of transportation-related projects, though on a limited basis.

DOTD also recently informed Raiford the state will procure the signal light control software the parish intends to use for the program, rather than turning over cash to the parish so it can buy the equipment outright.

Raiford say he has submitted a list of equipment needed to begin synchronizing traffic control signals along stretches of two of the busiest thoroughfares in the parish, Florida Boulevard and Airline Highway.

Raiford has been working on the plan since last fall, when the Metro Council refused to put on the ballot the administration’s proposed dedicated tax that would have generated $540 million to fund dozens of road, bridge, and sidewalk projects. That plan also included some $50 million worth of traffic control software improvements.

Though much of the parish is already connected through a network that relays traffic flow data to a central network that can control, or synchronizes, traffic signals in response to demand, the 120 signals targeted in the plan are either partially or not at all tied in to the network for a variety of reasons.

The new plan’s pared down list addresses the most critically congested areas in the parish and should reduce trip times by an average of 10%. The proposed system would also allow for better and fairer distribution of green light time on both major and side streets, thereby reducing delays, says Raiford, who expects to get the program underway soon.

“I expect the funds to be released in the next month and then I will go in and order the software I need,” he says. “I don’t think there is any question there will be positive effects on our traffic in the next few months.”

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