Louisiana has the fifth-highest pedestrian death rate in the country, according to a new report that cites 13 fatalities alone in St. Charles Parish from 2003 to 2012.
The report, created by the Center for Planning Excellence and the Louisiana Public Health Institute, says that more sidewalks, crosswalks and bike paths are needed across the state to protect pedestrians and bicyclists.
Though 2013 wasn’t included in the study, two pedestrians were killed in St. Charles Parish in November. Shantrelle Dunmiles, 32, was killed while walking on Old Spanish Trail in Boutte. The road does not have any sidewalks. Four days earlier, Mericka Hill was hit by a truck on the same road while walking to church. She survived but suffered internal injuries.
A North Carolina man was killed on Nov. 2 while walking on Highway 90 in Luling, and in December a bicyclist was killed after getting hit by a car at the intersection of Barton Avenue and Highway 90 in Luling.
St. Charles Parish has a slightly higher pedestrian death rate than the state average, according to the study. The Louisiana pedestrian death rate is 2.29 per 100,000 residents while St. Charles Parish’s death rate is 2.51 per 100,000 residents.
Of the 115 total traffic fatalities in the parish from 2003 to 2012, pedestrians accounted for 11.3 percent of the deaths.
Parish officials have already undertaken steps to improve pedestrian safety in Luling. Utilizing a $442,422 grant from the federal government, the parish is developing a plan to revitalize Paul Maillard Road in Luling and make it safer for pedestrians.
The Department of Transportation and Development has already begun feasibility plans focused on widening the road. As it is now, the narrow two lane thoroughfare has no shoulder in many places and deep ditches on either side with no sidewalks for pedestrians.
The parish was also able to build a sidewalk, using grant funding, on Norco’s heavily traveled 5th Street to keep children safe while they walk to school.
In past years, the parish has built bike paths on top of the levees to give bicyclists a safe place to ride.
While one person was killed walking on Old Spanish Trail and another was wounded last November, the road is a state highway and there is little the parish can do on their own to fix it.
Rodney Mallet, spokesman for the Louisiana DOTD, said the state would study the roadway if the Parish Council authored a resolution requesting improvements.
“We will conduct an engineering study which includes analyzing the crash data to determine if feasible countermeasures can be implemented. Our findings would be reported back to the council,” he said. “That’s how we usually respond to these types of requests.”