Governor Jindal Cuts Ribbon on U.S. 171/La. 8/28 Roundabout
Highlights $43.7 Million in Transportation Investments for Ft. Polk Community
LEESVILLE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal was joined by Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri H. LeBas and state and local officials to cut the ribbon on the newly completed U.S. 171/La. 8/28 roundabout in Leesville. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Leesville Municipal Golf and Recreation Center. At the ribbon cutting the Governor also highlighted $43.7 million in transportation investments for the Fort Polk community.
Governor Jindal said, “Here in Vernon Parish, we’ve invested $29.7 million to improve infrastructure since taking office in 2008. Opening the new U.S. 171/La 8/28 Roundabout will not only help improve traffic flow and reduce accidents here, but it will also make this region more easily accessible to the state – which encourages business expansion and job creation.”
The new roundabout project converted the signalized T-intersection of U.S. 171 with La. 8/28 into a two-lane, four-legged modern roundabout. A portion of the project also includes the intersection of a new side road constructed as part of the new Market Basket Food Store development adjacent to the west side of U.S. 171. This $2.1 million project began in October 2010.
Roundabouts offer a smoother flow of traffic with less stop-and-go traffic than a signalized intersection. Statistics show that roundabouts can reduce fatalities by up to 90 percent and injury crashes by up to 75 percent. This project will also save taxpayer dollars by reducing road electricity and maintenance costs by an average of $5,000 per year - eliminating the costs to install and repair signal equipment while also providing a 25-year service life, compared to the ten-year service life on signal equipment.
DOTD Secretary LeBas said, “The benefits of the Leesville roundabout are twofold, increased safety and improved traffic flow at this intersection. Safety is a top priority for our Department, and we will continue to look for ways to improve and enhance our roadways through the installation of various safety features, including roundabouts, rumble strips and cable median barriers.”
“We applaud Governor Jindal’s and the legislature’s investment in the infrastructure of the local community,” said Senator John R. Smith, District 30. “La. 8 and U.S. 171 are two major thoroughfares used to travel the entire community, including Fort Polk, and this project will help to improve the traffic flow and reduce accidents at this intersection.”
"This roundabout is an innovative solution to our traffic problem and I commend DOTD for bringing this approach to the City of Leesville and Governor Jindal for his support of our community," said Mayor Rose. "I know this is a new concept for us and it will require time to learn and get used to. However, I am excited about the long-lasting benefits to our transportation system and the economic benefits it will bring to the Leesville area."
“We thank Governor Jindal for recognizing Fort Polk's importance to our local community, Louisiana and our nation and for investing in transportation projects that are vitally important to the sustainability of Fort Polk and economic development and prosperity of Leesville and Vernon Parish. We are extremely excited about and look forward to the completion of the LA HWY 28 corridor that will significantly improve access to Alexandria. It will also enhance our ability to move combat units quickly/safely to the Alexandria International Airport for training exercises and deployments to theaters of operations,” said Colonel Roger Shuck, Garrison Commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk.
“The opening of the roundabout comes in perfect time as we prepare to open our new facility on August 10. We are pleased to have worked with the state in getting this project underway and look forward to the increased access it will provide for shoppers of Market Basket,” said Steve Cormier, Market Basket Senior Vice President of Operations.
A modern roundabout keeps speeds low and makes it easier for drivers to stay oriented and judge the speed of vehicles before entering. Modern roundabouts also require traffic to yield before entering whereas traffic circles and rotaries often require vehicles to merge into traffic.
TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENTS IN FT. POLK AREA
At the ribbon cutting, Governor Jindal highlighted additional investments in the Fort Polk community, including $43.7 million for almost 15 miles of projects for La. 28 from Vernon Parish through Rapides Parish. The investment includes the widening of La. 28 - a critical corridor for Central Louisiana and the country’s national security efforts. In order to facilitate the flow of personnel and materials between Fort Polk and the airport, military officials requested that LA 28/LA 8 be 4-laned.
Additional investments include a $1.3 million project in 2010 to replace a bridge on La. 184 near the entrance to Fort Polk to improve access to the base, and two upcoming projects, totaling approximately $3.5 million, that will continue to improve road surfaces near Fort Polk.