OUACHITA PARISH, LA (5/27/20)– The state of Louisiana saw a 35 to 40 percent reduction in traffic across the state during the COVID-19 stay at home order. With the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development being deemed “Essential”, they took full advantage of the lighter traffic to make headway on projects.
“Folks don’t always realize that when we are building roads and bridges, we are doing it under traffic. That traffic creates hardship for us in terms of safety as well as traffic control conditions that have to be set up or removed,” said Dr. Shawn Wilson, Louisiana DOTD’s secretary.
While DOTD was able to make good time and work ahead on some projects, this also allowed them to catch up on construction when weather got in the way.
“We saw some projects actually accelerate and pick up lost time. We saw about a 30 percent reduction in the first half of the construction season because of rain. However, that changed a little bit in the COVID stay at home orders,” said Wilson.
With more sunshiny days and quieter streets, DOTD moved night time projects to the day, the Tarbutton Interchange is 90 percent complete, and they finished stretches of paving.
“You can look no farther than the Arkansas Road project and today we stand at nearly 80 percent completion on that. Two of the four roundabouts that we are building are being opened and opened to traffic,” Said Wilson.
On Arkansas Road, DOTD opened up half a roundabout at the intersection of Forty Oaks Farm Road, while they work to finish the other half. This project accelerated because a critical part to roundabout construction is traffic control, but in this case there was very little.
DOTD officials say after finishing maintenance projects they were also able to focus on beautification on US-80. This isn’t something they normally get to do, but with little traffic, it was possible.