Motorists see light on Belle Terre

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Motorists entering and exiting Interstate 10 at Belle Terre Boulevard will have an easier time maneuvering the on and off ramps now that new lighting has been approved for the roadway.

The St. John Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday that approves a local match of 10 percent for construction costs of the lighting system. The resolution will now be forwarded to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and development so installation can begin.

Lighting at the Belle Terre interchanges has been an issue within the parish for quite some time. District 7 Councilwoman Cheryl Millet, who proposed this resolution, made a similar request for lights back in October of 2007, which was never acted upon. A new request was forwarded to State Sen. Joel Chaisson’s office in February, and the resolution was adopted.

“It’s a hazard getting on and off the interstate in that area because it is very dark,” said Millet. “I’m very pleased that my fellow councilmen felt the same as I did, and passed this resolution with little hesitation.”

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the 10 percent match, which would be taken from the parish’s street light fund, is relatively cheap compared to most local matches.

“It’s not uncommon to see a 25 or 50 percent match for something like this,” said Boe. “The fund has a surplus of money in it, so handling the costs should not be a problem.”

Boe said St. John would assume all legal liability, maintenance, and energy costs of the system once DOTD completes installation.  He said completion time has not been determined, and that it will ultimately depend on DOTD’s schedule.

“Passing the resolution puts us on the list of projects the DOTD is currently handling,” said Boe. “We should know by the end of next week what kind of ballpark time frame we are looking at.”

The Belle Terre interchange has gone without lighting since its construction in the 1980s. Boe said lights were not put in at that time because it was not common practice for rural interstate exits to have lights.

“Obviously the LaPlace area has grown exponentially since that time,” Boe said. “The exit handles much more traffic, and the lack of lighting has become a safety issue.”

After the meeting, Parish President Bill Hubbard said he was pleased that the council came together to pass the resolution with little dispute.  

“I think it is a great project and I know the residents who travel that road daily will appreciate the safety aspect it will have,” Hubbard said.