Lawmakers to bring change to stretch of interstate following Saturday's fiery fatal crash

COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - Help is on the way for North Shore drivers who are having to endure a dangerous and often deadly stretch of interstate.

State police sort through what went wrong on Interstate 12 Saturday after a ten-vehicle pileup which killed four people.

Traffic was fairly heavy, Monday, but flowing smoothly on I-12 near Covington at the scene of Saturday's deadly accident but while this interstate has been widened near Baton Rouge and Slidell, it might take a little longer for improvements to occur in the Covington area.

As a senator from Slidell, Sharon Hewitt is on I-12 constantly between Baton Rouge and her home and Saturday's tragedy came as no surprise on a very busy stretch.

"All the time I hit it, just now it's almost around-the-clock," said Hewitt.

Saturday afternoon, a truck loaded with avocados jackknifed as it tried to avoid slamming into vehicles backing up on eastbound I-12 between Covington and Madisonville.

"The smoke was unbelievable there was an 18-wheeler hanging off the road," said Colleen Toye of Mandeville. She drove up on the accident and then learned later that her friend Rachel Lehmann was among the four victims.

"She was very hard-working and a very loving mother," said Toye.

Accidents are a frequent occurrence along with this section of I-12 which is earmarked for a major widening project but exactly when that will happen is unknown.

"It's years these projects take years to get done through engineering and design," said Senator Hewitt, who sits on the transportation committee. She says short term help is on the way, and soon.

"One thing the secretary has done is request a road safety assessment that will lead to a Q detection system which will include signage up the road that will alert drivers when there's a stoppage ahead," said Hewitt.

Signage which may have made a difference Saturday afternoon.

A source says one of Rachel Lehmann's coworkers was actually driving behind her when the accident happened and had to help identify the body after the crash.

A man and a woman from Baton Rouge as well as the truck driver or among those killed on I-12 Saturday afternoon. State police say toxicology tests could take up to two months.

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