PONCHATOULA - The annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, which will take place this weekend April 7th through April 9th, is expected to bring over 300,000 visitors to the downtown Ponchatoula area.
This increased traffic volume quickly overloads the surrounding interstate system causing dangerous backups from heavily congested off ramps and forcing intermittent closures of interstate exits. In an effort to improve the flow of traffic and ensure that everyone has a safe festival weekend, Troop L urges motorists to follow the following alternate route advisories when entering and leaving the Ponchatoula area.
From Baton Rouge: Exit Interstate 12 Eastbound at Pumpkin Center exit #35, proceed south to LA 22, then continue east on LA 22 into Ponchatoula.
From Covington / Slidell: Exit Interstate 12 Westbound at LA 445 exit #47, proceed south to LA 22, then continue west on LA 22 into Ponchatoula.
From Mandeville: Take LA 22 west into Ponchatoula.
From New Orleans area: Take the Causeway Bridge into Mandeville and proceed to LA 22 west into Ponchatoula.
Throughout the festival weekend, Louisiana State Police will be working in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies to get impaired drivers off of the roads. Troopers will be focusing on driving while intoxicated, motorists and occupants not wearing seat belts, unrestrained children in vehicles, distracted driving, and any aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding and following too close.
Developing a plan that includes these guidelines will provide citizens the opportunity to enjoy festival activities without jeopardizing their life and the lives of others who may be on the road:
§ Do not drive distracted;
§ Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
§ Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
§ If you’re impaired, call a taxi, a sober friend, or a family member for a safe ride home;
§ If you encounter a suspected impaired driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
§ If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely;
§ Always buckle up, the proper use of seatbelts continues to be the single most effective precaution taken to greatly reduce the chances of being seriously injured or killed in the event of a crash.
While troopers will remain vigilant throughout the Ponchatoula and Troop L region, responsible decisions, behavior, and precautionary measures will ensure a safe and enjoyable festival experience for everyone.
To report impaired drivers or unsafe roadway conditions, dial *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police office closest to you.
For more information about the festival, please visit http://www.lastrawberryfestival.com/