Cites continual crashes, deaths on Airline Highway intersection
Sherry Howard has asked for help to curb the constant wrecks that have injured and even taken lives on Airline Highway.
It’s a mission Howard’s been on for nearly four decades or about the time she and her husband, Freddie, moved to 1710 East Harding Street in New Sarpy. They are in view of the intersection with Airline Highway where Howard said so many wrecks have occurred.
They’ve seen so many of them, as recently as last week, that the Howards are fearful of entering the highway.
“It feels like I’m a nobody … like we don’t count,” she said of her years of unheard requests for safety improvements. “They keep telling us there is nothing they can do. I thought it was about saving lives, not waiting while so many people die before they can give you some help. It doesn’t make any sense.”
In just the few minutes that Howard stood on the side of the road, vehicles lined up to turn on the street or pull out of the street – all converging on or leaving Airline Highway.
There is only a stop sign on the street and no traffic light or turning lane to regulate the traffic, and Howard maintains danger is imminent because she’s seen it firsthand.
Now, at 70 years old and tired of living in fear of the threat, she’s taking photographs of the wrecks and sending them to officials hoping for a change.
“If I want to get out of there I have to be careful if I know what’s good for me,” she said. “We have to sit here and wait. The darker it is the more dangerous it is.”
Two crosses on the side of the road, one dated 1968 and a neighboring smaller one bearing no information, are testimony to how dangerous the intersection has been in claiming lives.
Howard estimated at least four people have been killed there in crashes.
She questioned whether the lack of help is because there are so few people living in that area.
“What sense does that make?” Howard said. “Even if they can’t give me a light, can’t they give me some kind of safety feature … a caution light? Anything?”
On Tuesday, one of the people that Howard sent wreck photos to responded.
State Sen. Gary Smith said the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development studied the location and allocated 2018 funding for two merge lanes to be added to the intersection. Smith said a caution light is being considered, but not yet funded.
In the meantime, Howard and her husband will continue taking turns checking traffic so they can enter Airline Highway without becoming a statistic.
Howard said their caution is easily explained: “Some people took a chance and somebody hit them.”