BATON ROUGE, La. – Lower speed limits, increased law enforcement and enhanced signs are some of the action items resulting from a multi-agency emergency safety meeting on a portion of Interstate 12 near O’Neal Lane in Baton Rouge.
"As public officials, our top priority always should be the safety of the citizens we serve," said Johnny B. Bradberry, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. "The recent traffic crashes on I-12 demand that we give the public immediate, workable solutions to make this portion of I-12 safer for drivers."
Bradberry conducted the meeting today to discuss an immediate course of action to reduce the number of wrecks on the I-12 Millerville Road to Denham Springs corridor.
The immediate action items include:
· "Zero tolerance" for speeding.
· Increased patrols by the Louisiana State Police, Baton Rouge Police Department and Denham Springs Police Department in the corridor from Millerville to Range Avenue in Denham Springs.
· Increased police funding for special patrols and overtime from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and the City of Baton Rouge.
In addition, DOTD agreed to implement the following action items as soon as possible:
· Lowering the speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour from O’Neal Lane to Juban Road during the current and upcoming construction projects in the area.
· Placing electronic speed display signs along the corridor to inform drivers of their speed.
· Placing four message boards along the corridor to keep drivers informed about traffic conditions.
· Installing "Move It" signs, which inform drivers about the "Move It" law (R.S. 32:141.D), along the corridor. The law directs drivers to move their wrecked vehicles out of travel lanes if no serious injuries have resulted from a crash.
· Adding a tow truck to its Motorist Assistance Patrol service in the Baton Rouge area to remove stalled vehicles from traffic lanes quickly.
· Moving up the letting date, if practical, of a repaving project from Millerville to the Amite River Bridge, currently scheduled to let in December 2007.
· Reviewing the size and visibility of speed limit signs along the corridor.
· Reviewing striping and other pavement markers along the corridor to determine their adequacy.
DOTD also announced it will immediately conduct a multi-agency traffic safety study in the corridor and make recommendations within 60 days on the possibility of further lowering the speed limit, placing speed and lane restrictions on trucks, and increased informational signs, including electronic message boards.
In addition, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. James Champagne pledged more funding for traffic safety public service announcements.
Meeting participants included East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden; State Sen. Bill Cassidy; State Sen. Clo Fontenot; State Rep. Dale Erdey; State Rep. Hunter Greene; State Rep. Donald Ray Kennard; State Rep. M.J. "Mert" Smiley; State Rep. Bodi White; Magan Munson of U.S. Senator David Vitter’s office; Director of the Baton Rouge Department of Public Works Peter Newkirk; State Police Superintendent Col. Henry Whitehorn; State Police Deputy Superintendent of Crisis Response Lt. Col. Mickey McMorris; State Police Deputy Superintendent of Patrol Lt. Col. John LeBlanc; State Police Troop A Captain Brian Wynne; Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer; Denham Springs Police Chief Jeff Wesley; Livingston Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Will Clark; Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Col. James Champagne; Louisiana Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration Wes Bolinger; Lt. James Wingate and Lt. Gary Traylor and Sgt. Mike Murphy of the Baton Rouge Police Department; DOTD Assistant Secretary of Planning and Programming Eric Kalivoda; DOTD District 61 Administrator Roy Schmidt; DOTD Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer Administrator Steve Glascock; and DOTD Highway Safety Administrator Dan Magri.
DOTD statistics show that from 2002 through 2006, 1,874 wrecks occurred on I-12 from Millerville Road to Range Avenue. These wrecks resulted in 567 injuries and seven fatalities. Ninety-three percent of these wrecks were caused by driver error, and all seven fatalities were caused by driver error.