A Louisiana Senate panel has unanimously approved a bill
that would prohibit highway work requiring the closure of at least one lane of
traffic from happening during rush hours.
The Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works
Committee voted May 31 to send the bill – HB1173 – to the full Senate for
consideration. If approved there, the bill would head to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s
desk for her signature. The House already approved it.
Sponsored by Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, the bill would
forbid highway construction and maintenance during the peak drive hours of 7 to
9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays.
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 Crowe said the law isn’t being followed and numerous
traffic delays are the result. He singled out work on the Interstate 10 twin
spans linking eastern New Orleans and Slidell, The Times-Picayune reported. He also cited work on the U.S. 11 bridge over Lake Pontchartrain.
The bill would require the removal of all barricades,
equipment and workers during the specified peak drive times. It also would
require state contracts to contain language prohibiting contractors from
working at those times.
A provision removed from the bill in the House 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.