Mayhem lives at the intersection of Airline and Viking Drives, but like a bad neighbor it seems to never go away.
The troublesome intersection will be included in an upcoming Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development traffic flow study.
Airline Drive, like many of Bossier City’s main thoroughfares, is a state highway. City officials learned last week that the study will cover Airline Drive between Old Minden Road to the south and Brownlee Road to the north.
Outcome of the study is expected to be better synchronization of traffic signals.
Eight of the top 10 Bossier City signalized intersections with the highest average daily traffic count are located on Airline Drive. That doesn’t include the intersection with Viking Drive, which has high traffic at certain times of the day but lacks the consistent volume of traffic to make the list of the city’s 10 busiest intersections.
What that intersection lacks in sheer volume, however, it makes up for in complexity.
At certain times of the day, motorists trying to turn into fast food restaurants prevent through traffic from crossing the intersection. At other times, motorists from Airline High wishing to go north on Airline must cross into the northbound turn lane on Viking drive.
“It has multiple driveways near the intersection,” said City Engineer Mark Hudson. “A driveway in a bad location can interfere with the flow of traffic a quarter-mile in either direction.”
Although Bossier City and many other cities now have restrictions on the frequency of curb cuts and minimum distance requirements from an intersection, much of the development on Airline Drive preceded those regulations.
“After you get a driveway, its untouchable,” Hudson said. “You can’t go in and remove them.”
Four of Bossier City’s most accident prone intersections with traffic signals are along a short stretch of Airline Drive between Viking Drive to the south and Beene Boulevard.to the north. Beene Boulevard is the southernmost entrance to a major shopping center east of Airline Drive, and leads to Willis Knighton on the west side of Airline.
In 2012, the last year for which accident information is available, there were 167 traffic accidents at the four signaled intersections in that short stretch of Airline Drive. The 59 at Viking Drive tied for the most at any traffic signal, while the I-220 East intersection was third with 48.
Just as motorists are frequently stuck in traffic on Airline Drive,the city is boxed in on potential solutions up and down Airline Drive, particularly at its intersection with Viking Drive.
“If anything can be done, we’ve tried it,” Hudson said. “We’ve used high-tech software. There’s lots of stores and buildings. It is what it is.”
Although Bossier City has invested millions of dollars in recent years to improve traffic flow and safety, particularly for north-south traffic corridors, Airline remains the road of choice for motorists because it has destinations such as Pierre Bossier Mall, many retail shopping centers, big box stores, schools and it provides access from interstate highways to residential subdivisions to the north and Barksdale Air Force Base to the south.
Options on Airline Drive are limited, not only because it is already heavily developed, but also because it is a state highway and there are two ground level railroad crossings. An overpass, such as the city constructed on Benton Road, would be cost-prohibitive on Airline Drive. From an engineering standpoint, Hudson said an underpass could be feasible but funding would be a major obstacle.
Widening Airline Drive to allow more traffic lanes is highly unlikely, Hudson said.
Much of the city’s efforts in recent years have been directed at providing and improving alternative north-south traffic thoroughfares.
The widening and realignment of Swan Lake Road, which Hudson said should be substantially complete in 45 days, is expected to improve traffic flow and improve safety. In 2012, the Texas Street intersection at Industrial/Swan Lake Road ranked third in the city with 51 accidents.
Although linking Old Minden Road to Viking Road would provide an alternate north-south corridor between Airline Drive and Swan Lake Road, there is not a strong likelihood of that happening anytime soon.
Old Minden Road becomes Old Shed Road and then becomes Alpine Boulevard north of Shed Road. St. Lucy Street runs south from Viking Drive, but a railroad separates it from Alpine Boulevard.
Because of potential liability from accidents at ground level, Hudson said railroad companies often want two or three ground level crossings closed before approving a new crossing.
Further west, plans are in the works to extend Arthur Teague Parkway north to link up with Benton Road at Montgomery Dive.
With the recently announced plans for a Kroger Marketplace between Wal-Mart and Home Depot on Airline Drive, the city plans to build a new road and extend others in the area that would allow access on Viking Drive to and from the development.