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Police hope to reduce crashes along I-10 construction zone

As construction continues on I-10 between Lafayette and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, there’s a good chance you’ll be sitting in traffic because of a crash.

Since work began in May, Henderson police have had an increase in crash reports.

Before construction began, Henderson PD worked nearly a dozen crashes per month. Now, that number is between two and three dozen crashes. In November, the numbers dropped to 13 crashes in the construction zone, but jumped to 37 in December.

Every week, more than 400,000 vehicles travel along I-10 in Henderson. Lanes are narrow throughout the construction zone and barriers near the foot of the Basin Bridge are making it difficult to pass safely.

“We added some striping and object markers to highlight the traffic lanes for the trucks so we can keep them in their lanes. That’s part of the problem,” said Bill Oliver with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Police say despite the reduced speed limit and not having a shoulder, drivers are speeding, following too closely and are distracted.

“These vehicles that are traveling in the 80’s, 90’s are going over 100 feet per second,” said Henderson Police Captain James Thibodeaux. “They can’t stop on a dime and people and lives are at risk because of it.”

Mary Leblanc travels I-10 often and said, “It’s really bad. They have impatient people and the work they’re doing, there’s nowhere to switch over.”

Police say there’s little maneuverability in the construction zone.

“For the prudent drivers, looking out for the aggressive drivers, it makes it difficult in some areas to take any type of evasive action,” Thibodeaux said.

Police are continuing to patrol and try to give drivers a heads up when traffic is backed up.

“We’re working with the construction company to put more stripes, more barrels, more things to say hey! Heads up! Things are about to get hanky in a few seconds,” Thibodeaux said.

Oliver said, “Hopefully in a couple of months we can get traffic switched over and we’ll have more standard width lanes and less trouble with the trucks.”

Construction is expected to continue at least another two to three years along I-10, Oliver said.

2018 Crash Numbers in the Henderson Police Department Jurisdiction:

January:     12
February:    11
March:         22
April:            25
May:            16
June:           21
July:             31
August:        23
September:  38
October:       24
November:   13
December:    37

Thibodeaux said, “Again, these numbers only reflect those crashes handled by the police department statutorily mandated by Louisiana revised statute 32:398. These numbers do not reflect those crashes near the city limits handled by Louisiana State Police that our agency assisted with.”

Chris Welty

Chris Welty

Chris Welty is a multimedia journalist at KATC.
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