Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Legislation Advances; Bill Factors Travel Time Into Speeding Tickets
A bill that would use time spent traveling and cameras to factor into speeding tickets for violators traveling on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge on Interstate 10 has made it one more step closer to final Legislative approval.
Lafayette Senator Page Cortez's bill, which has already passed the Louisiana Senate, advanced out of the House Transportation Committee on Monday.
When someone gets busted for speeding it is usually because of one of two instruments - a radar gun or a speed camera. Each item is programmed to capture how fast someone is traveling in miles per hour and the violating driver is given a ticket depending on how many miles per hour over the speed limit that person was traveling.
On the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, speeding is commonplace. The posted speed limit is 60 mph but many drivers just see that as a suggestion. Drivers are known for traveling at least 10, 20 miles per hour over the speed limit every day on what has become a dangerous stretch of Interstate 10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge.
Senate President Page Cortez did the simple math. The bridge is 18 miles long. If a driver travels the posted speed limit of 60 mph then it should take that driver 18 minutes to cross the bridge. Not a minute sooner.
“If it took you 14 minutes (to cross the bridge), you were going 80-something miles per hour and you didn’t stop at any of the exits,” said Cortez in this Louisiana Radio Network article.
Cortez's bill would mean that drivers who cross the bridge in less than 18 minutes could receive a speeding ticket in the mail, basing the ticket on how fast it takes a vehicle to get from one end of the bridge to the other instead of the miles per hour the vehicle was traveling.
DOTD Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says the cameras would track vehicles to see whether they travel across the bridge in 18 minutes or less.
“You’ve obviously gone consistently above the 60 miles per hour limit,” said Wilson, speaking in support of the bill and in reference to speeding drivers.
After advancing out of the Senate Transportation Committee nearly a month ago, Cortez's bill had to go through another Senate committee - Finance. Why? Because putting up additional speed limit signs and cameras won't be free and will cost the state money.
“In a perfect world, we hope we lose money on it because everybody is going the speed limit and there are no accidents," said Cortez. "A perfect scenario is that we put up signs, we pay for them and we get no revenue from them."
According to the Louisiana Radio Network, injury-related crashes have doubled on the bridge over the last decade. Cortez says something has to be done to slow that down.
"If you’re going 80 and you are reading a text message, you have no chance to react or at least you have a better chance to react if you are going 60 than going 80,” said Cortez
So, how much revenue would drivers lose if they are caught traveling across the bridge to quickly?
The answer is double the current fine for speeding on the bridge.
Now, speeding drivers would get two warnings and a fine on the third violation. These fines would range for $175 to $500.
Next up for the bill: a trip to the Senate floor. If it passes there, then it heads to the full House and then to Governor John Bel Edwards' desk for his signature.
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