Cost not only impediment to canal guardrails in Metairie

Cost not only impediment to canal guardrails in Metairie

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Drivers whipped along Veterans Memorial Boulevard and nearby West Esplanade Avenue Wednesday and many likely drove past the canals without giving them much thought.

But lately there has been a dangerous trend: vehicles ending up in the water in Metairie.

"We have had high incidences of people going into the canals, and it's something that we've been meeting on and it seems like we're hoping it doesn't happen again before we can get some of the wheels up," said Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, who represents the area.

Tuesday a vehicle drove into canal in the 3500 block of West Esplanade. The driver survived.

It's the same stretch where firefighter David Yeoman's body was recovered from the canal in April. He was still inside his truck.

Mere days after that tragedy a mother crashed into the canal on Veterans Boulevard. She was killed along with her daughter.

And on June 1 there was a rescue along West Esplanade.

"Obviously, safety is the number one priority and we're looking at all options," said Jefferson Parish President John Young.

Even though parish leaders are increasingly concerned about vehicles landing in canals. With hundreds of unprotected canals in this parish they say it won't be an easy fix.

"You don't have unlimited funds, and we obviously don't want to take away from drainage, as well, so we have to balance that," Young stated.

"Money is not just the only factor, it's lately due to some of the engineering difficulties in trying to put guard rails up next to vehicular lanes that are going to actually stop a car from going into the canal and kind of divert them back into the lane," said Councilwoman Lee-Sheng.

"The complication is we have 700 miles of open canals in Jefferson Parish," Young said. "My preference would be to cover all the canals. Obviously, we don't have the money to do that, so we have to look at the heavily traveled areas."

And Lee-Sheng said canals where recent incidents have occurred are certainly a priority.

"We do know we want to start tackling some areas that we know we can solve the problem in a short period of time…We have to dig very deep, we need a lot of right-of-way, we need a lot of space to do that and now we're looking at a new situation-the integrity of the canal bank," she said.

Young said he would be looking for state and federal dollars to help with the costs associated with any guardrail projects.

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