Vidalia officials hoping to decrease speed limits on highways

Published 12:12 am Saturday, October 12, 2013

VIDALIA — Two Vidalia officials are hoping to decrease the speed limits on separate highways in hopes of keeping residents safe.

Mayor Hyram Copeland hopes to reduce the speed limit on U.S. 84, while Police Chief Arthur Lewis hopes to reduce the speed limit on Louisiana 131.

The speed limit on U.S. 84 fluctuates between 45 mph from the Concordia Parish Courthouse to the Vidalia Municipal Complex and increases to 55 mph until Ferriday.

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Copeland is hoping to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph on U.S. 84 through a secondary access road being built at the municipal complex.

“There’s such a tremendous amount of traffic on that highway, so we’re going to ask the state lower that to 35 mph,” Copeland said. “Lowering the speed is a safety factor with as much traffic that comes through Vidalia.”

Crews are working to complete the secondary access road to the municipal complex. Copeland said the new road will be completed within two weeks.

The access road will begin in front of the tennis courts near City Hall and will help alleviate the congestion of traffic during baseball and softball games, Copeland said.

“It will also give us another route in and out of the complex for fire, ambulance and police vehicles,” Copeland said. “It’s going to benefit us to have more than one exit.”

The city is also exploring the possibility of placing a spotlight in front of the municipal complex.

Copeland said the Louisiana Department of Transportation is currently conducting a feasibility study on placing a stoplight at the complex’s current access road.

Concerns about the proximity of another stoplight at the intersection of Louisiana 3180 and U.S. 84, may prevent the new light from being installed.

On the other side of town, Louisiana 131, or Martin Luther King Avenue inside the city limits of Vidalia, currently has a posted speed limit of 35 mph.

The road runs through several neighborhoods from Gregory to Gillespie streets. Lewis said residents and students from Vidalia Junior High School frequent the streets.

Lewis also said he’s received multiple complaints from residents in those areas.

“This is a safety issue, pure and simple,” Lewis said. “With the Vidalia Junior High in the area and kids going to and from school, this is something that needs to be done.

“This is the only neighborhood in Vidalia with a speed limit above 25 mph.”

Lewis is hoping to change the speed limit on Louisiana 131 to 25 mph throughout the city.

The state, Lewis said, has agreed to do a study to determine if lowering the speed limit is warranted. The study should be finished in November.

While the study is being completed, Lewis has directed officers to monitor speeds on the road more closely, especially before and after school.