FOX 8 Defenders: Relief headed to congested Jefferson neighborhood

Sometimes trapped in their own driveways, frustrated neighbors turned to the FOX 8 Defenders to get answers.
Updated: Nov. 4, 2019 at 9:14 PM CST
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Jefferson, La. (WVUE) - “You know, I like to wake up and have a little peace and quiet, but not here, with these trucks,” Thomas Anders said. What plays out in front of his Old Jefferson home, disrupts his quality of life.

“Rush hour in the morning, they’re delivering. In the evening, they’re blocking it up,” he said.

He’s not the only one frustrated.

“We just had a tenant move out because of the trucks.. She said, ‘I can’t get out sometimes to get to work. I have trouble being on time anywhere and get stuck,’” R.J. White told us.

His family owns a couple of the homes along St. George Avenue, where one side of the road is residential and the other side is commercial.

“If you have traffic coming in both directions, they’re gonna have to take turns to get through,” White said.

Most of the truck activity is happening at the Koerner Company’s distribution center, where delivery trucks have to back in to load up or unload.

“When they have to turn around, and they have to pull in and out, it might take them ten minutes, and traffic starts to back up,” White explained.

Some truck drivers use the road for parking, and when other trucks or vehicles need to pass, it gets dangerously tight.

A man who works down the street sent FOX 8 cell phone video where he captured a truck driver park his big rig on the residential side of the street, blocking at least one driveway. In the video, you can see the driver walking down the street. He blocked a driveway, trapping a resident who couldn't get out. It's a scene, many are fed up with.

“They had to pull off in the yard to avoid a rear end collision,” Anders said. “There was big truck grooves in the lawn, and they had knocked a statue base and taken it and just scarred the lawn with it,” White said.

He was referring to a smaller, passenger truck that drove off the road to avoid a crash when a much bigger truck stretched across the roadway. White said the passenger truck traveled just feet from the porch steps. White was thankful no one was in the front yard at the time.

Black and yellow posts can only protect people and property so much, according to neighbors who told us the dates marked on the back of the signs, January of this year and over the summer in June, show how often the parish replaces them because they get hit or knocked down.

They’re also worried about emergency situations.

“They gotta do something to lower the traffic and the noise, the traffic is the main thing,” Anders said.

Frustrated there’s been no solution for years, they turned to the FOX 8 Defenders for answers. Residents wondered if utilizing a large green space that’s been roped off in front of the Koerner Company could solve some of their concerns. It’s the only land that’s not already being used.

After reaching out to Jefferson Parish, initially a spokesperson told us the Engineering and Streets Departments would work to develop a game plan to address the situation. Soon after, a JP Streets Department contractor started re-surfacing St. George Avenue.

After we reached out to the parish a second time, public information officer Samantha de Castro told us, after St. George is repaved, the next step will address parking concerns, which includes parking paths in the only grassy area that’s not already being utilized.

"This will allow trucks to get out of the way of traffic until they can unload in the bays at the business located in the area," de Castro said.

In a recent letter to residents, Council member Paul Johnston called it "the best-case scenario" after working to address problems in the area since he took office in 2012. "I'm just glad to see progress," Anders said. He believes the changes will make a difference, and the road will return to a two lane road with less traffic jams and backups.

In his letter, Council member Johnston wrote this “should improve the access of emergency vehicles as well as the quality of daily life for residents and commercial businesses in this area.”

The parish hopes to have the work completed this month, and de Castro says District 2 funding will cover the project costs, which is roughly $300,000.

FOX 8 reached out to Earl Koerner, an owner with the Koerner Company, several times for comment on this story, but never heard back.

If you’ve got a concern you’d like us to look into, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women, the NCJW or fill out our online complaint form.

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