Opelousas working to improve interstate safety - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Opelousas working to improve interstate safety

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OPELOUSAS, La. (KNOE 8 News/AP) - A plan is currently being developed to help reduce accidents on one of the most dangerous intersections in Opelousas.

The Interstate 49 interchange at U.S. 190 has been the scene of 44 accidents with injuries in the past few years, several of them fatal.

Opelousas Mayor Donald Cravins said help may finally be on the way.

"We have been discussing this for at least the last 10 years," said Cravins, who pointed to a $1.5 million federal study of the intersection that was completed a few years ago.

Cravins recently met with state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri LeBas and regional traffic engineers; officials with Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino, which is located on that corner; and other officials to help resolve the issue.

"The DOTD engineers expressed confidence that there is a short-term fix that will address these problems effectively," Cravins said.

"DOTD feels that entire corridor needs to be addressed," Cravins said. "The traffic volume through that area has really increased."

As for finding the funds for the improvements, Cravins said officials with Boyd Gaming, which owns Evangeline Downs, have said they would be willing to put up part of the money.

The exact nature of the improvements will be up to the DOTD engineers. But Cravins said they would probably include a new northern entrance into the casino property from U.S. 190 and the installation of what is known as "J-turns" at the various entrances into the highway.

A J-turn is basically half of a U-turn, where a long approach lane is added to the median side of the roadway so that motorists don't have to cross the entire highway to make a left turn.

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