Says something needs to be done after fatal wrecks
After three serious wrecks on the Hale Boggs Bridge, two of which were fatalities, the parish council has asked the state Department of Transportation and Development to lower the speed limit from 70 to 60 miles per hour.
Sheriff Greg Champagne is in favor of a lower speed limit and has written to DOTD in the past requesting that they do so. However, Champagne said he never received a call back.
“I think 70 miles per hour is way too fast, especially considering that I-310 north of the bridge is 60 miles per hour,” he said. “There have been many accidents on the bridge due to various causes, one of which is high winds
that surprise some drivers as they cross the crown.”
Champagne also said that the merge lanes present a danger on each side as slow traffic getting on to the bridge merges with the faster traffic coming through.
Councilwoman Wendy Benedetto, who authored the resolution, said she did so after reading about the three wrecks in the Herald-Guide. The most recent fatality was 18-year-old Jessica Cancienne, who was a former softball star at Hahnville High School. Cancienne was killed when her 2008 Mazda Tribute ran into the back of a garbage truck on the bridge in early May.
The two other serious accidents also involved garbage trucks. Last July, 38-year-old Luling resident Misty Carroll was traveling northbound on I-310 when she crashed into a garbage truck that had run out of fuel near the top of the Hale Boggs. Carroll was killed as a result of the accident, and a 6-year-old passenger was injured.
In almost the same spot six months earlier, Luling resident Craig Perrier Jr., 31, was heading to work at 5:30 a.m. when he ran into the back of a garbage truck he said was traveling between 35 to 40 miles per hour. Perrier’s vehicle was going 70 miles per hour.
Perrier’s truck was crushed like a can by the force of the collision and he fractured his tibial plateau and broke his shoulder.
“Now, half of my knee is metal,” he said.
Benedetto said that if Champagne believes that lowering the speed limit will help reduce accidents, she will do whatever it takes to get it done.
“The council has a good relationship with DOTD, and if I have to go up there and preach before them, I will,” Benedetto said. “I don’t want one of my children to be next.”
The recent wrecks hold a special significance to Benedetto, who knows Perrier and whose children were friends with Cancienne.
“When a child dies like that, there is no consoling their poor parents and there is nothing that will bring their child back,” Benedetto said. “If lowering the speed limit will help prevent one more life being lost, I’m for it.”
Councilman Larry Cochran also believes lowering the speed limit will help reduce accidents, especially when large vehicles are involved.
“If you look at the last three accidents in which garbage trucks were involved, they happened when the trucks were going slow right across the crown of the bridge and the other vehicles were doing 70 miles per hour,” he said. “I hope that lowering the speed limit to 60 would help alleviate these accidents between the slower trucks and the faster vehicles.”
Cochran did say that an even slower speed limit, such as 55 miles per hour, might help even more, but that the DOTD was unlikely to agree to lower the speed limit below 60 miles per hour.