Town hall vote: Residents want Bayou Road cut mendedAug 26th, 2013 | By admin | Category: News
How do you begin to resolve a community issue? At least in a democracy, we can engage in public discussion.
That is just what happened the other night at the old historic courthouse below Poydras. Councilman Monty Montelongo convened a town hall meeting with Parish President Dave Peralta, Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann, State Representative Ray Garofalo and Councilman At Large Guy McInnis.
The primary topic was the reopening of the state highway through lower St. Bernard, otherwise known as Bayou Road. Back in the 1990’s the highway was cut in the name of public safety. The state had declared Bayou Road one of the most dangerous roadways in the state. It was reputed to not only be in disrepair but a source of motor vehicle fatalities. Obviously, with the altering of the traffic flow by cutting the highway into segments, some accidents have been avoided. Do we really know, if the road cut was the solution or has it been a change to more use of the four lane. No one showed proof that when the road was connected after Katrina it became the old unsafe highway
Haunting issues of past maintenance seemed critical. There are residents that cherish the privacy the road cut has created for them and for others it has created headaches and a safety nightmare.
Today, the past issues of safety may not trump the needs of the residents currently. A very important fact was pointed out that GPS guidance now lures unknowing trucks and other traffic into a dead end. Private driveways have become the turnarounds for these almost
stranded vehicles. There is a considerable concern that emergency vehicles such as EMS using GPS guidance will end up in the dead end losing critical time in a life-threatening situation, such as a heart attack. It was also pointed out that just to get from one neighbor to the next, a driver may have to leave Bayou Road go to the four-lane and then return back to Bayou Road, an inconvenient detour. Most would agree, the reopening is not going to create a parade of random vehicles.
Without a doubt, arguments were made on both sides. The next step of a democracy is a vote, a show of hands indicated the majority of the people in the courthouse wanted Bayou Road reopened and in both directions with a possible lower speed limit.
Throughout the evening, there had been a debate about the financial responsibility of the roadway, the obligation of the state to maintain the roadway, and the right of all the residents of the parish to use its roads to travel within the parish. Should this be a parish vote? That could be a question of the law.
The discussion ended with both Parish President Peralta and state representative Garofalo acknowledging, they will work on the problem and keep the community informed.
Another topic that was addressed to Sheriff Pohlmann, was the dirt bikes and four-wheeler riders. Safety was the factor, not the noise. Many residents testified of young children operating motorized vehicles on the roads and shoulders.
Stepped up enforcement is certain to come.
I ask, do parents realize the safety issue of this activity and the law? I just pray some child does not end up dead or paralyzed because an adult let them have a motorcycle or four wheeler without the proper supervision. Litter was another topic but it is a matter of picking it up. The parish has made several special pick ups and trying to do their best. Resources are limited. This could be a good civic project for volunteers.
The meeting ended and many thanks to Councilman Montelongo and the other officials for taking the time to have an honest discussion with the community.