Business owners on Moss Street let their voices be heard Thursday night on an upcoming DOTD project. The meeting was hosted by Herbie Schilling at Schilling Distributing on Moss Street.

Business owners in that area listened to a DOTD presentation on why they believe making the 4-lane roadway into a 3-lane roadway with a bike path will greatly reduce crashes in that area.

Before they did that, though, Mr. Schilling spoke to the audience.

"Upper Lafayette and Northside are the prime areas for commercial development," stated Mr. Schilling. "If we have proper roadways, Northside and Upper Lafayette can grow."

DOTD officials say this project is part of 51 routes across 8 parishes that are being re-striped. This project would re-stripe the 1.64-mile stretch from Jefferson to south of Alexander Streets.

The main example DOTD officials used to compare Moss Street to was LA-14 in Abbeville, which has already been turned from a 4-lane road to a 3-lane.

"The mayor of Abbeville told me if anyone has any concerns about doing this, give them my phone number and tell them to call me," exclaimed DOTD District Adminstrator Bill Oliver. He went on to quote the Abbeville mayor as saying "this is the greatest thing y'all have ever done in the city of Abbeville."

During the meeting, Oliver told the audience how uneasy he felt when many of them said they learned of the project through a newspaper article instead of in a setting such as this one. He said it wasn't DOTD's intention for that to happen.

Oliver and District 3 Traffic Engineer Nick Fruge addressed concerns from the business owners there. Many of their concerns were about the potential of their businesses suffering as a result of this project because of unintentional traffic jams caused by making less lanes available to drivers.

"I understand the concern..(but) our numbers are showing that we are not close to that threshold," explained Fruge.

Business owners also asked why other safety concerns, such as roadway conditions and what they say is a lack of police presence, have not been addressed. DOTD officials countered with stats that showed crashes dramatically being reduced in places where these projects had previously been implemented. Traffic officials touted statewide crash rate stats which showed crashes falling significantly when areas were converted from 4-lane roadways to 3-lane roadways.

On LA-14 in Abbeville, for instance, Fruge pointed to stats over a 3-year period (2012-2015) in which crashes were reduced by 56% and injuries from crashes were reduced by 70%.

DOTD officials continuously pointed to a scary stats for business owners and residents living on Moss Street - 221 crashes over the same 3-year period.

When it was all said and done, a hand count showed business owners unanimously coming together in opposition to the project.