ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister is asking the state to widen the interstate where four people were killed on Saturday.
In a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards, she pleaded for immediate help:
It is with great sorrow that I write to you regarding a fatal car accident that occurred Saturday, May 26, 2018, in St. Tammany Parish. This horrific and tragic incident took the lives of four people, and injured ten others traveling Interstate 12, between Louisiana Highway 21 and the I-12 Tchefuncte Bridge.
This accident, however unthinkable to the citizens of this Parish and our State, pales in comparison to the unthinkable grief that has consumed the families that have lost their loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we can only hope that those prayers can lighten the burden of loss they are consumed with now.
The horrific images of this accident heightened awareness of the need to make this stretch of roadway safer. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development offers data that proves the car count near the accident location has 50 percent more vehicles travelling through this portion of roadway than the section between Walker and Satsuma which is currently under construction.
There's no way to know if an expanded I-12 from the intersections of LA Hwy 190 through LA Hwy 1077 would have prevented the traffic congestion that led to the fatal crash. The events of Saturday, May 26 only magnify the severity of traffic concerns in one of Louisiana's fastest growing parishes. The amount of traffic that travels through this section of highway is significantly greater than traffic over other sections that are currently expanding to a minimum of six lanes with capacity for more. It's time to immediately solve the need for I-12 expansion in St. Tammany.
Governor, I am hopeful that you will accelerate expanding this part of our interstate roadway, a need that has been validated by your own data and administration. The solace of knowing that we have taken steps to prevent another family from going through the same devastating loss of a loved one, may help, in some small way, to ease the pain of this tragedy, and offer our commuters a little more piece of mind.
I urge you to fulfill this request, not because I am asking or because it is a priority supported by your own data, but mostly because we owe our citizens and travelers the assurance that we as elected officials are doing everything we can to provide a safe transportation system. I became involved in government because I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. I can't think of a more important responsibility that protecting the lives of those we serve.
Please let's not wait until 2023 as currently scheduled to begin construction on this expansion. Let's speed the funding and timeline to address the need for expanding this roadway now. Thank you so much for considering this heartfelt plea.