Let’s improve our major highways

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Gray Line Tour – Leonard Gray

We tend to get comfortable in our morning commutes, getting up for work at the same time, headed from our homes at the same time, taking the same routes and seeing the same drivers, day after day.

This week already, one accident snarled traffic on Interstate 10 in LaPlace for nearly two hours, while a rear-end collision was cleared up. At the same time, work is continuing on West Fifth Street to replace a culvert under this main alternative route to Airline Highway, between two schools – John L. Ory and St. Joan of Arc.

Several projects have been proposed, postponed and delayed, all aimed at easing the way traffic gets from one side of LaPlace to the other. These include extending Woodland Drive to Belle Terre Boulevard, further extending Woodland in the other direction to the Airline intersection with Bayou Steel Road, and finally a new road to connect West Fifth with Airline near River Parishes Hospital.

Without a doubt, studies have already been done on the transportation issues on the East Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish. Isn’t it time we actively pursue the funding and push for the actual construction of some of these transportation improvements?

And, while we are at it, the State of Louisiana could do with improving that Interstate 10 and 55 interchange, both to make it easier for commuters moving from southbound I-55 to eastbound I-10, and also for northbound U.S. 51 drivers to reach northbound I-55 when the ground-level highway is flooded.

Furthermore, there is no way a driver can go from eastbound I-10 to northbound I-55, without taking a chance on U.S. 51.

In case of an approaching hurricane, should that section of U.S. 51 flood from the lake, the only way LaPlace area residents can reach northbound I-55 is to take Airline to I-310 and double back to westbound I-10. This puts them in the middle of St. Charles Parish traffic also trying to evacuate and most of Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Much remains to be done, but more effort must be made to realize some of these improvements.

LEONARD GRAY is managing editor of L’Observateur. He may be reached at (985) 652-9545.