PRAIRIEVILLE – A busy intersection along an Ascension Parish highway is producing dozens of accidents in a calendar year and people living in a neighborhood near the hot spot are pleading for help.
The intersection of Highway 42 and Joe Sevario Road is troubling to Nichole Gautreau. Across the street from Joe Sevario Road is Wilkes Drive and the front of Twelve Oaks Subdivision. Gautreau says she’s watched as drivers disobey the speed limit, turn blindly, or don’t yield to oncoming traffic. Last November, her neighbor died at the intersection.
“How many people have to lose their lives for us to get something done,” Gautreau asked.
The neighborhood has worked hard to find solutions. Gautreau says the state restriped the lanes to create a no-passing zone and installed a flashing light. Larger stop signs have also been placed in the area. Still, Gautreau fears it hasn’t made enough improvement.
“People screaming in their cars for help, they aren’t just little fender-benders,” she said.
Neighbors have collected photographic documentation over the years. Capturing pictures of head-on collisions, deployed airbags, accidents with injuries, and vehicles smashed so badly half of the car is missing.
According to the incident report from the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, there have been 23 reported accidents at the intersection since August 2021. Three of them happened just last week.
“People are getting hurt. They’re going to the hospital and we don’t understand why we can’t get a red light until a roundabout is put in place,” Gautreau said.
There has been discussion of a roundabout for a few years as improvements progress along the Highway 42 corridor. The Department of Transportation and Development says a stoplight is not the answer and that it would create more rear-end crashes.
“They talk about people rear-ending each other, but if they were to put up extra signage, you know warning people that there is a light, flashing light signs…I know it’s a lot but to us it means everything,” she said.
The roundabout goes out for bid in spring 2023. Gautreau says she doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt if it can be prevented, even saying that the neighborhood could offer up some funding to find a solution. She said they can’t afford to wait for the roundabout, providing more time and opportunity for people to get hurt.
The state says it looked at the crash data and found that the majority of the crashes are driver-error and include running the stop sign, sideswipes, and rear-enders. DOTD says the intersection does not meet the criteria for a signal because there is much more traffic on the highway than on the side streets. It also says a signal would lead to more crashes and more serious crashes because the traffic traveling at higher speeds would be forced to stop.
The state says the roundabout will be the quickest and best solution for this intersection.