“I just didn’t see the truck coming.”
So said Lincoln Parish Police Juror Skip Russell after his narrow escape last week from serious injury or death. Russell was involved in a collision with a fully loaded dump truck at one of the more notorious intersections in North Louisiana, LA Highway 33 (Farmerville Highway) and LA Highway 821 (Douglas Rd), located a little over a mile from the Ruston corporate limits.
And it isn’t as if Russell isn’t familiar with the site, as he lives but 1/2 mile down Douglas Road. When his kids were growing up and learning to drive, he always told them to take another route because of the danger, he said.
Russell’s accident is but the latest wreck at the busy intersection.
In June, there was a fatality, and in February, 2013, long-time Ruston CPA Melba Jones lost her life there.
According to figures provided by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LaDOTD), during the ten years of 2004-2013, there were a total of 32 accidents at the location. There were a total of 20 injuries and two fatalities.
These totals do not include the 2014 fatality, Russell’s accident, nor any other from this year.
In 2010, major work was completed on Farmerville Highway, making it a four-lane with a center turning lane all the way out to the Douglas Road intersection.
Many people have opined that the 55 MPH speed limit on Farmerville Highway is too fast, considering all the businesses located in the area.
Limited visibility, especially for traffic entering the intersection from the west (Frazier Road), also is an issue.
Note from the aerial photograph that vehicles approaching the intersection have to look to the right (south) over their shoulder, as the intersection is not perpendicular. Also, traffic into and out of the convenience store on the corner can confuse, as it adds another element that must be factored into a driver’s decision before crossing Farmerville Hwy.
Once that driver commits to crossing the five lanes, there is little time to spare if northbound traffic tops the hill driving at the speed limit.
DOTD’s Susan Stafford said that a study had been done in 2013 to evaluate the feasibility of installing a traffic signal at the intersection, but that traffic and roadway conditions did not meet the minimum requirements for a traffic signal, or the use of any other traffic control measures.
She added, “However, in light of recent incidents at the intersection and public inquiries, another study of the intersection is being conducted and is estimated to complete this fall. In the meantime, DOTD is also working with local law enforcement to help monitor the intersection.”
The matter is reportedly on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting.