La. lawmaker proposes bill to increase speeding fines on Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

WAFB FILE PHOTO of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge
WAFB FILE PHOTO of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge(WAFB)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 3:23 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A Louisiana lawmaker wants to increase the fines drivers caught speeding on I-10 on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge must pay.

Currently, the first offense for speeders on highways in the state is a fine of not more than $175 or imprisonment or not more than 30 days, or both, unless otherwise provided by law. Another violation will result in a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days or both.

SB 435 by Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, wants to increase the standard fine by five times for drivers cited for speeding on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Louis Hamilton is tasked with trying to slow drivers down.

He detects the speed of traffic with one vehicle at a time, and is positioned literally right before drivers head onto one of Louisiana’s most feared bridges, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

“I think speeding is the number one issue that we’re trying to fix, but at the same time it’s the breakdowns,” said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.

Sheriff Stassi’s deputies are tasked with responding to things like crashes that happen on the roughly 18.2 mile bridge, because part of it falls in his parish. Along with the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police.

“More dangerous than the regular interstate because in places they have no shoulder, no way to get off. And these people get on this bridge, I don’t know where they think gas is just going to be made inside their car, but they run out of gas, they have flats,” said Sheriff Stassi.

In 2019, there was a total of 235 crashes on the bridge, resulting in five deaths. In 2020, the total crash number dropped to 206 and resulted in two deaths. However, in 2021, the total number of crashes jumped to 276 and also resulted in two deaths.

Hence the reason deputies are checking to see how fast you’re going.

Currently if you get a speeding ticket its about $175. But that fine would increase by five times if Senator Page Patrick Cortez’s bill passes. But some folks have questions.

“What are they going to do with the money if people are fined there, are they going to put it into redoing the bridge,” said Blake Robinson, a truck driver.

“If it takes a high fine like that to slow it down, we for that,” said Sheriff Stassi.

The proposed bill would require more signs to be installed, and cameras to track how fast drivers are going.

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