Chaisson secures $1 million for Airline Highway barrier


August 13, 2008 at 9:14 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The wait for some kind of barrier to prevent accidents along the deadly stretch of Airline Highway might be over. Senate President Joel Chaisson II recently got $1 million to use towards the construction of a barrier. Louisiana
Shonna Riggs/Herald Guide
The wait for some kind of barrier to prevent accidents along the deadly stretch of Airline Highway might be over. Senate President Joel Chaisson II recently got $1 million to use towards the construction of a barrier. Louisiana
For years, residents struggled to understand why some type of barrier was not put in place along Airline Highway to prevent the numerous fatalities that have occurred there.

Now, the wait for a life-saving measure may finally be over.
Senate President Joel Chaisson II has secured $1 million to be used towards a barrier on Airline.

“The money that was allocated and put into the budget must be used for a barrier only,” Chaisson said. “I've been checking monthly with the secretary of the transportation department, William Ankner, to see how things are progressing.”

The Louisiana Department of Transportation confirmed that their engineers are working on a proposal to select a barrier to prevent cars from plunging into the canal, which is believed to be about 10 feet deep.

“Engineers are working up proposals to put a barrier installation up along Interstate 310 and LA 48,” Brendan Rush, public information officer for the D.O.T.D, said. “The engineers are in Phase I of the project, which means their trying to come up with the proper kind of barrier and then they will proceed to the next phase of the project.”

Last month, a St. Rose man plunged into the deadly waters off of the busy highway and was saved by twin sisters.  Another St. Rose family has created a memorial along the highway to remember the deaths of their four children, who died after their car slipped into the canal.

Chaisson says the families who have lost loved ones in the canal may finally have peace of mind now that something is being done about it.
“The $1 million is a start,” Chaisson said.
Chiasson says that even though a task force was formed to improve the situation along Airline, the measures taken weren't enough.

“Too many lives have been lost,” he said.
Rush says that after the proper kind of barrier is chosen, the project will go out for bids.

“We already have the funding, so that's not going to be an issue,” Rush said. “The barrier will protect about seven or eight miles of roadway.”

At the request of Chaisson and Rep. Gary Smith, the U.S. 61 Task Force Committee was formed to investigate two fatal crashes resulting in six fatalities that occurred on U.S. 61 between I-310 and LA 48 in the spring of 2003. 

Former Secretary of the D.O.T.D., John Bradberry, allocated $800,000 of improvements to U.S. 61 (Airline Highway) in early 2005, based on recommendations made by the U.S. 61 Task Force Committee. The improvements were made after the committee heard recommendations from concerned citizens. Not one of the final recommendations included a guard rail or barrier system.

The committee is composed of representatives from the D.O.T.D, the Louisiana State Police, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office, the St. Charles Parish President's Office and the Federal Highway Administration.




View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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