Higher fines for speeding in effect on Atchafalaya Basin; signs, radars and cameras up next

FILE - The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge
FILE - The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge(WAFB)
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 12:51 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT
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IBERVILLE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will begin installing new signs along the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge on Friday, Aug. 5.

According to DOTD, the additional signage is part of a three-phase process in response to the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge being established as a highway safety corridor. They will also install camera safety devices to monitor vehicles traveling over the posted speed limit and issue warnings and citations.

“Based on the data, this is going to be, if people follow the rules, then we’re going to have a much safer drive,” said Rodney Mallett, the DOTD Communications Director.

As of Monday, the higher fines are in effect. Meaning if you get pulled over by law enforcement you will receive a high-priced ticket.

During the first phase, crews will install “Higher Fines” signs near the bridge approaches on I-10 at both ends, as well as on the on-ramps at the Whiskey Bay and Butte LaRose exits. There will also be “Safety Corridor” signs placed before the bridge approaches to warn drivers of the changes, according to DOTD.

“Well we’re going to have the warning signs up hopefully in the next week or two. And we’re going to start as soon as the weather will allow,” said Mallett.

DOTD reports that the second phase will consist of crews placing automated radar feedback signs that display motorists’ speed throughout this 18-mile stretch.

“Then what we’re going to do is, we’re going to hopefully go to bid by the end of the year, and we’ll have signs out that will be able to monitor and show your speed. So it will give you an idea if you’re going the speed limit, or how close you’re going to the speed limit,” said Mallett.

That finally leads to the big talker, the third phase, which will consist of crews placing cameras that will monitor drivers’ speed. Officials will place cameras checking the speed of drivers, making sure they don’t cross the bridge in less than 18 minutes or they could receive a ticket.

“Now it going to be if you’re a second off, 5 seconds off, you know that is still in the planning phase. We’re still going through the design of how we’re going to issue the tickets, how we’re going to do the appeal process. And where we’re going to put the actual cameras,” said Mallett.

The new rules have some drivers re-considering their routes when possible.

“I work in Lafayette, Lake Charles and Opelousas a lot. Coming from New Orleans I cross it (Basin Bridge) a lot. Not no more. Not since I know that (new law). I will be taking 190 a lot. That’s too much trouble,” said Lawrence Barra, a motorist from New Orleans.

“You know there are a lot of bad accidents that do happen if you’re speeding and I understand that. But I really don’t think that’s what it’s about, I think it’s about money,” said Quiana Hebert, a motorist from Lafayette.

Both the radar signs and speed cameras should be installed by early 2023.

“There’s lot of things that go into making sure that this runs efficiently and serves it’s purpose, which is like we’ve talked about already, the safety factor of it,” said Mallett.

For more information about the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Safety Corridor, visit the DOTD website.

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