Bill to clear Louisiana roads during rush hours advances

| 5/10/2006

A Louisiana House panel has approved a bill that would prohibit highway work requiring the closure of at least one lane of traffic from being done during rush hour.

The House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee unanimously passed a bill May 2 that would forbid highway construction and maintenance during the peak drive hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Existing Louisiana law specifies that major roadwork be done at night, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., or during other “non-peak” traffic hours, such as weekends.

Projects can be exempted from the rule if traffic studies determine that non-peak work hours cause “undo hardship or significant delay” to drivers.

But Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, said the law isn’t being followed and numerous traffic delays are the result. He singled out work on the Interstate 10 Twinspan Bridge, which links eastern New Orleans and Slidell, The Times-Picayune reported. He also cited work on the U.S. 11 bridge over Lake Pontchartrain.

Crowe’s bill would require the removal of all barricades, equipment and workers during the specified peak drive times.

The bill also would require state contracts to contain language prohibiting contractors from working at those times.

The transportation panel removed a provision from the bill that called for violators to face a 5 percent loss of the contract amount for each day they are in violation. Instead, present law was reinstated to provide for the loss of incentives for performing peak-hour work.

HB1173 has been sent to the House floor for consideration.