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Friday, August 07, 2009

DOTD safety move irks town officials

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The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development wants to give the town a raised median and safety gates at the Hwy. 22 railroad crossing, but some town officials don’t want it, the Gonzales, La., Weekly Citizen reports. DOTD engineer Bill Shrewsberry said construction would probably start late this year or early next, in an effort to improve safety.


The engineer indicated he was unprepared to answer questions about the railway going through town, but said safety issues were at the heart of the proposed 150-foot median and safety gate. The installation would be based on traffic loads, two wrecks that have occurred a the site since 2000, and possible train speeds of 79 mph if a New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge passenger train begins operation in the future.


Councilman Lionel Melancon Jr. said he was against the proposal because it would hurt business in town and create access issues in some parts of Sorrento. Melancon, a truck driver, said the proposal would also make turning difficult for tractor-trailers and make the roadway more dangerous when they are making turns.


Melancon was supported by other members of the council, who said they would write a letter to DOTD with their objections. Mayor Blake Melancon said he was genuinely concerned about resident safety in certain parts of town if an evacuation was needed in the vent of a catastrophic emergency.