Hello Kristin Palmer!
Congratulations on your election to the District C city council seat earlier this year! That’s how many in a row for Algerines?
My name is Lance Vargas and I am a found object folk artist, blogger and registered voter in your district. I am writing about a problem intersection in our district, Mardi Gras Boulvarde and Whitney Avenue. An image of the intersection is included in this e-mail. Google thinks the road is called Bringier but no one I know calls it that. Everyone just says Mardi Gras Blvd.
The issue with this crossroads is it’s the intersection of two four lane roads yet it is an all-way stop. As we all know, the law requires that the first vehicle to arrive at an all-way stop sign has right of way to proceed through the intersection. If two or more vehicles come to the intersection at the same time, each vehicle must yield to the car to his or her right. It requires a little bit of knowledge and judgment on behalf of the driver, more so than if there were a traffic signal at the intersection (cars would proceed when the signal was green), or if there were a stop sign at only one of the two 4-lane roads (cars would proceed when the roadway was clear).
The issue with this 8-lane intersection is it is harder to calculate who arrived at the intersection first when the driver has to pay attention to six other vehicles approaching the intersection. At a 4-lane intersection, it is easier to deduce who arrived at the intersection first because there are only three other vehicles to watch. With six, it is twice as hard to determine. This intersection is the only one I have every seen where there is an all-way stop for two 4-lane roads.
Further complicating matters is the amount of large vehicles that use these intersections. With the construction of both Federal City and L.B. Landry High School and the future expansion of the LSPCA and any other development that may be in store for Algiers (you probably know more about this than I do), the amount of large vehicles in addition to the bus traffic (I know of two transit lines that come through, “The Loop” being my favorite) there will likely be heavy use of the intersection for the foreseeable future. As these vehicles slowly make their way through the intersection, it is harder for drivers to see what the cars and motorcycles in the lane beside and behind them are doing. How would a driver know if a car arrived at the intersection before them if they never saw because a truck was in the way?
It should also be said that the intersection is wider than normal. Both roads are close to “Canal Street wide.” Whitney Avenue has a very large, grassy neutral ground as does Mardi Gras Boulevard. So it is that much harder to see what is happening across the way. Especially at night or in the rain.
I know before the storm there was a two-way stop sign there. If I remember correctly, the traffic on Whitney had the stop sign and traffic on Mardi Gras Blvd. was unimpeded. Then I presume the storm blew down the stop signs. A temporary all-way stop was put there and was then made permanent. That was the mistake. Hey, it was in the months following the Flood. Who can blame them? I know I was going craaaaazy (back on my meds now).
Check this out though, at the intersection of Nunez and Mardi Gras Blvd. further toward the river, there is only a two-way stop and traffic proceeds unimpeded into Gretna (a.k.a. ‘the Home Depot Trail’). This is the how the Whitney / Mardi Gras intersection could be.
I foresee a bit of a problem at the onset of the change as drivers adjust to it. This is why I recommend a traffic signal instead of just a stop sign. I know we have a budget crisis and they are more expensive but Federal City is supposed to bring 10,000 jobs to Algiers, many of these workers may choose live over the river (I don’t know why they would want to) and would use this intersection every day. Also, school-age kids from the Fischer Development on Whitney will be driving, walking or bussed to the new L.B. Landry High School and will use this intersection. So for the sake of new drivers, bus drivers and pedestrians, it may help for the City to step up and make life easier on them.
But if the budget does happen to be an issue, you may want to talk to whomever has the district that contains the intersection of S. Claiborne and Earhardt over the River. Because there is a light there where it isn’t needed. I am sure if S. Claiborne didn’t dead end there, a light would be needed but it does and the light is still there like some remnant of an era before the Superdome. So have some crews pull those out and bring them on over to Algiers and take our stops signs and put them at that intersection. That should help with the cost of materials.
You may also be able to pay for the light by putting one of those red light cameras there. People would be so confused at first it would be like installing a video poker machine! I’m kidding of course.
Fortunately, the problems caused by the intersection aren’t necessarily dangerous in nature, I’m mostly seeing fender benders, confusion, congestion and maybe some road rage. But it would be prudent for the city to correct the mistake made after the storm before traffic at the intersection increases.
I remember how frustrating it used to be to have to navigate this intersection before the morning commute. It was like an appetizer for the ensuing headache of bridge traffic! Man, I’m glad I became a folk artist! No more daily commute for me!
Anyway, just trying to help. I think a change here would be a logical next step.
Stop by and see me on Jackson Square if you ever need some folk art gifts for friends and family. I’m there on Saturdays. I’m the salvaged wood guy. The carved salvaged wood guy not the guy that paints on it. And not the bas relief carver but the abstract figures carver.
Lance “Varg” Vargas
P.S. I am posting this letter and your response on my blog thechicory.com.
P.P.S. Say hello to Arnie Fielkow for me, he helped me out a while back with some street lights when James Carter ignored my e-mail.