Grambling police chief provides hope of making one of parish’s most dangerous intersections safer

State Hwy. 150 winds its way through Lincoln Parish like an asphalt rattlesnake connecting the cities of Ruston and Grambling.

And like a rattlesnake, sometimes it bites, and in deadly fashion. In January, a fatal single-vehicle crash along the twisting and turning highway better known as “Old Grambling Road” claimed the life of 24-year-old Deja A. Young of Grambling, who lost control of her vehicle, ran off the road, and hit a tree just west of the road’s intersection of Mockingbird Lane. There have been more than a few deaths on that road over the more than three and a half decades I’ve called Lincoln Parish home.

The worst — most dangerous — part of Old Grambling Road is probably (definitely in my mind), where it intersects Tarbutton Road.

But according to Grambling Police Chief Tommy Clark, safer days are hopefully headed to “Old Grambling Road,” he said during Thursday night’s Grambling City Council meeting.

The intersection of “Old Grambling Road” and Tarbutton Road (La. Hwy. 818) has a caution light — blinking red (meaning stop) on the Tarbutton sides of the intersection and yellow (meaning slow down and be cautious) on the La. Hwy. 150 sides.

Part of the problem is that caution is seldom used at the intersection, as vehicles race past it as if those vehicles were being driven by NASCAR drivers on the German Autobahn (which has no set speed limit).

That’s bad enough, but the intersection is directly before a major curve heading west toward Grambling.

I often use that intersection. Turning west isn’t that much of a problem as you can see eastbound traffic coming at you from Ruston without trouble.

But because of the curve, drivers have no idea what’s coming at them from the west, or how fast it’s moving.

Coming off of Tarbutton and turning left toward Ruston is literally a death-defying move. I always creep up as far as I can, almost onto “Old Grambling Road” itself to be able to look right and hopefully have time to see anything coming at me from the west. Then, after making sure things look clear, I press my gas pedal to the floorboard as I turn left, staring into my rearview mirror and praying nothing will roar up behind me, forcing me to leave the roadway in an attempt to not be rear-ended.

According to Clark, those days might be coming to an end. Hopefully soon.

As he was telling Grambling’s City Council about increased patrolling looking for speeders on “Old Grambling Road,” Clark gave them the potentially good news.

“(On Wednesday), the Louisiana Department of Transportation, the Ruston police chief (Steve Rogers) and myself met at that intersection to talk about some changes they’re going to make there,” Clark said. “We were out looking at the traffic because there are a lot of crashes there at that light because of the way the road curves. With the (Tarbutton Overpass) now open, we have more traffic there than ever before. When they opened the road back up, it almost tripled the accidents at that caution light.

“So they’re looking at trying to put an actual stop light there. We had everyone out there and it looks like they’re going to be pushing for it.”

And that’s wonderful news. A stoplight there would be much-needed antivenom for that asphalt rattlesnake known as “Old Grambling Road.”

Pictured is a view from Tarbutton Road (La. Hwy. 818) at its juncture with “Old Grambling Road (La. Hwy, 150). (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT.LPJ)

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