Des Allemands fights for a traffic light

Area residents recount family and friends lost at intersection

September 13 at 5:30 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Des Allemands fights for a traffic light
L.J. Frickey recounted the near miss he experienced at the very spot an estimated 100 people told officials at Wednesday's town meeting to place a traffic signal.

At the Intersection of Highway 90 and LA 632, Frickey recalled his nearly deadly wreck there.

“I was coming from Frank’s grocery and I had pulled out, and didn’t see anybody coming from the bridge,” he said. “I was getting ready to make a right turn on WPA Road (632) to come home when this car passed me on the shoulder and he hit my 1985 Chevrolet El Camino. He hit the passenger side of the car, clipped a light pole and flipped over. He blocked the four lanes of traffic there, and there were sparks everywhere. If I’d made that turn, I think my wife would have been history.”

Frickey pulled the man out of the vehicle.

Without doubt, he maintained the accident would not have happened if a traffic signal had been at that location. “I’ve been here all my life and I’ve seen the traffic just be horrendous,” Frickey said. “It’s more and more. It’s just busy here.”

St. Charles Parish Councilman Paul Hogan agreed.

Hogan, along with fellow Councilman Billie Woodruff, hosted the meeting that drew Frickey along with the many area residents who told the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) they want a traffic signal at this deadly intersection.

DOTD District Engineer Chris Morvant told the group that he would bring their request to Baton Rouge.

Hogan also named Alfred “Tat” Tregle and more recently Karen Duran as casualties to the uncontrolled traffic at the intersection.

State Sen. Gary Smith and Rep. Greg Miller, who also both attended the meeting, both say they will help work with the DOTD to get the light.

They were accompanied by Parish President Larry Cochran, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne, School Board Member Sonny Savoie, and Pat O’Malley, School Board representative.Champagne said the DOTD’s rigid requirements to justify the light make it unlikely Des Allemands “will ever reach the necessary volume of cars entering Highway 90” in order to get a traffic light.

However, the sheriff said he has implored the DOTD to look past the numbers and base the assessment on “the fact that the entire community has to put itself in danger every day with no safe alternative.”

Hogan proposed closing access to Highway 90 to direct traffic to Carlon Drive but not in reverse. With Morvant saying the traffic numbers are close to justify the light, Hogan suggested the move might help boost the needed traffic count necessary to get the signal.

Morvant agreed to propose the move to DOTD and noted the estimated cost of the signal would be $180,000.

Jennifer Verdin, also among those who attended the meeting, said the light has long been needed.

The Des Allemands resident also knows the need for it in the most painful way.

Describing Karen Duran “as another momma to me,” Dufrene said her recent death in an automobile accident at this intersection could have been caused by the lack of a traffic signal. Speeding could have been a contributor in the wreck, she said, noting some people come off the bridge over Bayou Des Allemands at 70 mph or faster.

Verdin added Duran was coming out of Corlan Drive, likely traveling at the typical 35 to 40 mph, when she was struck by an SUV and declared dead at the scene, according to Louisiana State Police. The cause of the wreck is under investigation.

“I’ve been for it since they started on it,” she said of efforts to get the signal. “There is constant traffic there trying to get in and out. A light would do much there.”

Fearful of the intersection herself, Verdin has long avoided it, as well as the hazard of trying to maneuver through the heavy traffic.

She said her own mother recounted town meetings that she went to in support of getting the signal – and that was nearly 15 to 20 years ago. Verdin said the light should have been installed when Allemands Elementary School was built on WPA Road.

Hogan is optimistic that the DOTD got the message about the necessity of improving safety there.

“I was totally pleased with the huge public turnout of this important item,” he said. “I felt that the meeting went well and, personally, I have a good feeling with regards to the chances of getting a traffic signal.”

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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