Gov. John Bel Edwards signs bill that increases speeding fines on Atchafalaya bridge

Staff Report
A state legislative proposal promotes stiffer fines for speeders along the Atchafalaya Bridge, which has been a haven for traffic accidents, including one from January in which a truck driver struck a Iberville Sheriff’s Office vehicle.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law last week that will mandate lower speed limits and traffic cameras along the Atchafalaya twin span of Interstate 10.

Senate Bill 435 – also known as the Louisiana Highway Regulatory Act – by Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, will increase fines five-fold for speeding violations along the 18-mile artery, which has been a frequent area of traffic accidents in the 49 years since it opened.

Fines currently range from a maximum of $175 and upward of $500 for offenses thereafter.

The new law will change it to a maximum of $875 for the first ticket, to $2,500 for subsequent citations.

It will also add eight additional sets of speed limit signs spaced equally on the eastbound and westbound bridges.

The bill will require signage indicating trucks can only travel in the right lane.

State Department of Transportation and Development statistics show more than 750 accidents have occurred on the 18-mile artery since 2019, including nine fatalities.

A total of 276 accidents and two deaths were reported in 2021.

Thus far, 41 accidents – 13 with injuries – have occurred along the elevated roadway in 2022.

Many of those accidents have occurred near the Whiskey Bay area, along the westernmost portion of Iberville Parish. 

Sheriff Brett Stassi, president of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, was among the ardent supporters of the legislation.

“If it’s going to slow down the speeders, prevent accidents and save lives, I’m all for it,” he said. “But I’m still going to have my deputies patrolling that area to ensure it remains safe.”

The speed limit is 60 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks. Cortez said the speeding makes it tougher for emergency crews to respond to accidents.