Atchafalaya Bridge doubles fines for speeding and using truck lane

A new rule effective Aug. 1 in Louisiana addresses concerns about travel along the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

Motorists are allowed to travel up to 60 mph along the Interstate 10 freeway in southern Louisiana. Truckers are allowed to travel up to 55 mph along the span connecting Lafayette and Baton Rouge. In addition, trucks are allowed to use the left lane only for passing.

State law allows fines of up to $175 for speeding and lane use violations. Repeat offenders face fines of up to $500.

New safety corridor

Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill this spring to designate the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge as a traffic safety corridor.

The Road Safety Corridor Distinction allows double fines for speeding. Offenders would first receive a warning before receiving a $350 citation for a third offense. Subsequent violations would result in fines of $1,000.

Double speeding fines are allowed on the bridge from today.

Revenue from fines above the cost of operation would be shared between the parishes of Iberville and Saint-Martin. The 18 mile range is located in both parishes.

Previously SB435, a second provision of the new law allows the use of enforcement cameras to track vehicle travel times.

Shawn Wilson, director of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, said cameras won’t be installed to track drivers’ speeds until early next year. Speed ​​control signs are expected to be posted in the coming months.

Additionally, eight sets of speed limit signs are expected to be placed on the east side of the bridge. Eight sets of panels are also planned for the west side.

Six sets of “Trucks Right Lane Only” signs will be evenly spaced on the east side of the bridge. The same number of signs will be posted along the westbound section.

Answer to a need

Senate President Page Cortez R-Lafayette said changes were needed to address safety concerns along the span. He said a year ago there were 269 crashes with 89 injured and two dead.

Cortez said the Department of Transportation will post cameras along the span to time how long it takes a vehicle to get to certain points along the bridge.

Cameras will be posted at the two entrances to the bridge, at the two exits along the corridor and at the end of the bridge in each direction.

Vehicles that reach the points along the bridge at travel speeds faster than intended for the vehicle and the posted speed would be subject to an infraction notice.

Cortez said something needed to be done to help law enforcement counter the use of mobile apps that alert drivers to the location of law enforcement vehicles.

“Everyone knows where the police are, so they go as fast as they want until they’re a few hundred yards from the police and they slow down,” Cortez told a committee. from the room. “When they pass them, they go away again… It’s pretty much a game of cat and mouse.”

He adds that the additional enforcement option is necessary due to limited shoulder room, which makes it a safety hazard for state troopers enforcing traffic rules on the bridge.

truck traffic

One concern expressed about travel along the Atchafalaya Bridge was the enforcement of the truck lane rule.

Wilson said the problem of truck travel is best addressed by placing signs to alert trucks to the left lane restriction.

“I think the best way to solve this … is by law we put up six signs saying trucks are restricted to the right lane, and so I think that will help tremendously,” Wilson previously testified. “I think everyone is going to take this enforcement lane as one to be treated more seriously and driven responsibly, so I think it will be for trucks that are in the left lane.” LL

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