Traffic Talk

Apr 15, 2014 11:09 AM by AP

Sunset considers joining Lafayette planning group

SUNSET, La. (AP) - A grant opportunity could give Sunset the parish's first roundabout intersection.

The Sunset City Council discussed potential membership in the Lafayette Metropolitan Planning Organization at this month's regular meeting. Joining would allow the town to have representation on the board that approves grants.

"You don't have to be a member to apply, but it certainly helps to have representation," said Mike Hollier, planning manager for the LMPO.

Hollier told The Advertiser planning organizations are based on what the U.S. Census defines as an urban metropolitan area and after the 2010 results, Lafayette's urban area now includes portions of Iberia, St. Mary and St. Landry parishes.

"That urban area expanded dramatically beyond Lafayette Parish," Hollier said.

Those parishes and their municipalities have been extended membership invitations as a result. The St. Landry Parish government has joined and Sunset is now considering that in the interest of its own grants.

Mayor Cecil LaVergne, as he explained the LMPO to the council and audience, suggested funds could be used for a roundabout, a type of intersection in which roads merge into a circle, which allows a regular flow of traffic to enter, travel and leave without stopping.

Such intersections have become increasingly popular, with Youngsville's and Scott's roundabouts seeing heavy media attention and public anticipation. Studies show the risk of traffic collisions also decreases with roundabouts.

What accidents do happen also tend to be less severe as glancing collisions tend to replace T-bone accident common at traditional intersections.

"The MPO is very strong on roundabouts," Hollier said.

"They're a very good tool," said St. Landry Parish President Bill Fontenot, who worked for the Louisiana Department of Transportation for 30 years, the last 18 as this area's regional administrator. "They replace signalized intersections with great functional efficiency."

Municipalities have until July 15 to submit grant proposals.

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