JP to study feasibility of guardrails along canals

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The cross at the edge of Veterans Boulevard marks tragedy still fresh in the minds of drivers. It's where a mother and her young daughter were killed after their vehicle careened into the canal.

"We never noticed it as much until the fatality, but we have noticed it more now," Tina Stubbs said. "Something needs to be done. There's so many people going into canals, not just at this intersection, but on West Esplanade and numerous other canals. I just don't know how easy it's going to be."

It's clear some people in Jefferson Parish are concerned about the open canals, and while Council members want to make them safer, what's unclear is how effective guardrails would be, let alone, if they could be installed next to the water."

"People think you can put up guardrails very easily, but in addition to it being a financial issue, it's very much an engineering issue for us," said Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng. "We have to dig very deep to prevent a 40-45 mile an hour car from crashing into that guardrail and keeping it in that vehicle lane."

The Jefferson Parish Council has selected engineers to study the issue, paying up to $600,000 for research on how to protect the canals on both sides of the river. The problem is, not every canal is the same.

"It's very different, from block to block," Lee-Sheng said. "Sometimes we have very large rights of way, sometimes the car or vehicle is very near a canal bank immediately, so it's not quite as easy, and we're looking to get some help."

"To study a problem where people need to take more responsibility for their own way that they drive is kind of a waste of money," Michelle Sala said.

Some drivers feel it's up to the person behind the wheel to stay on the road, and at the least want the parish to use the hundreds of thousands of dollars approved to make real changes instead of ordering reports.

"I would think that this $600,000 study would probably be better off if you're going to do something, then maybe make it a little safer with that money. But like said, I think it falls back on the drivers of New Orleans to just be safe."

Still others don't think there's a price you can put on safety.

Lee-Sheng hopes to have the study complete and a plan in place by the end of the year.

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