Bayou State's governor splits speeds, restricts lane usage

| 9/4/2003

Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster bypassed the Legislature last week by taking speed limits and lane restrictions into his own hands, according to Baton Rouge, LA, television station WBRZ.

Last week, Foster, a Republican, ordered the speed limit reduction and lane restrictions for heavy trucks on Interstate 10 through the Atchafalaya Basin after a truckdriver and four others died in an 11-vehicle pile-up accident on I-10 between Butte La Rose and Whiskey Bay.

“Not everybody believes the governor has the authority to simply change speed limits and implement lane restrictions on a whim, especially since the Legislature rejected that idea earlier this year,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “While the governor may see a benefit in reduced speed limits, it’s ludicrous to simply lower the speed limit for trucks and create a split speed limit. That won’t resolve the problem.”

Earlier this year, the state’s Legislature failed to pass two bills that would have restricted trucks to the right lane. HB241 would have restricted heavy trucks weighing at least 5,000 pounds from passing any motor vehicle on an elevated thoroughfare or on a street or highway within a municipality. HB1478 would have permitted city governments to adopt ordinances restricting heavy trucks weighing at least 5,000 pounds to the right lane on all city streets, roads and highways.

Both bills were still in the House Transportation Committee when the Legislature adjourned June 23.

Spencer said OOIDA was urging Louisiana truckers to contact their state lawmakers now and ask those lawmakers to talk some sense into the governor.

“State lawmakers can be held accountable for what their governor does,” he added. “Lawmakers should be bold in speaking out against the governor’s knee-jerk reaction.”

The governor’s lane and speed restrictions are scheduled to take effect in mid-October and require the installation of new signs along the roadways.