DOTD working to keep U.S. 90 open
Travelers won’t be able to dodge the cold weather but the primary thoroughfare of U.S. 90 appears to be out of jeopardy from being closed.
A limited supply of salt had loomed as a threat to keeping U.S. 90 open today with La. 182 becoming the east-west route through the parish. That possibility was minimized this morning said Jeff Legnon, a maintenance specialist with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in Franklin.
“We got a good little stockpile over here at the Yokely Road Franklin office,” Legnon said this morning. “We are looking pretty good at this point.”
Tri-City police chiefs and parish officials were warned Monday afternoon that, efforts to keep U.S. 90 open to traffic could be abandoned.
“If we do not procure enough salt to assure we can keep both Highway 90 and (La.) 182 open then we will shut down Highway 90, but will keep the Calumet Cut bridge open so motorists can cross over and reconnect on Highway 182,” Legnon said Monday of a worst-case scenario.
“We will try by all means to keep both highways open,” Legnon said.
Keeping both highways open has become even more important with the 8 a.m. closure of I-10 at Lafayette, a possibility of which Legnon warned Monday.
Deidra Druilhet, a highway department spokeswoman, said the interstate was closed between the I-10/I-49 junction and the Iberville Parish line, due to freezing weather conditions. Traffic will be detoured via I-49 north to U.S. 190. The 9 a.m. web update on the department’s site shows the interstate closed from Lafayette to Baton Rouge in both directions because of ice.
DOTD cannot predict when or if a road or bridge will close, she said.
“We will keep the state roads and bridges open as long as it is safe for motorists to travel,” Druilhet said.
Motorists can access the latest updates on real-time traffic and road conditions using the 511 Traveler Information System by dialing 511 from their telephone and saying the route or region about which they are seeking information. Out-of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511). Travelers can also access this information by visiting the 511 Traveler Information Web site at www.511la.org.
In St. Mary Parish, the state highway department will closely monitor the following routes:
—U.S. 90, from I-10 to Morgan City.
—La. 182, from Morgan City to the Assumption Parish line.
—La. 317, from Bayou Sale to La. 182.
—La. 319, from La. 83 to end of maintenance.
Additionally, during last week’s inclement weather, DOTD’s district office used a de-icing solution on the roads, Druilhet said. Once the material was depleted, the district gathered salt from external sources and other DOTD districts to assist with its de-icing efforts.
In preparation for the impending winter weather for this area, DOTD has about 16,000 gallons of de-icing solution and more than 46,000 pounds of bagged salt to assist with de-icing.
If U.S. 90 remains open, Berwick Police Chief James Richard asked that the state’s highway department pay particular attention to the exit ramp to La. 182. That ramp iced over last week and led to an accident before it was closed, Richard said.
Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle offered the resources and manpower of his department to Berwick if it is needed.
Both chiefs, along with Morgan City Police Chief Travis Crouch, said they have adequate barricades and are prepared to block roadways as needed inside their cities.
Traci Landry, St. Mary Parish Sheriff spokeswoman, said there are “extra deputies, in addition to the norm, and everybody else is on standby” in anticipation of deteriorating roadways.
‘We are monitoring road conditions and working with state police and the DOTD,” Landry said.
Callers to the sheriff’s office could have a little bit of a wait time because of increased call volume, Landry said.
“We are just asking for a little patience when they call,” Landry said. “Of course if there is an emergency they should call 911.”
A state of emergency has been called in Morgan City, Patterson and Berwick.
Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff said that while the town does not anticipate any problems, if any extra cost or damage is incurred, the town can file with the government for reimbursement.
“Since the state and parish declared an emergency, for us to get any reimbursement for additional supplies, we need to have a declaration of emergency declared on by the council,” Ratcliff said.