NEW ORLEANS Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development symbolically broke ground on a $1.2 million project to install cable barriers along the roughly eight mile stretch of Interstate 10 from Paris Road to the Frank Davis 'Naturally N'Awlins' Memorial Bridge.
It will be the last area of I-10 in New Orleans to get the protective barriers, designed to snare cars so they can't cross to the other side of the interstate.
'This very simple concept saves lives. Whenever you drive around and you see that that cable barrier has been damaged, that means that it has stopped one vehicle from going to the other side, thus possibly saving lives,' said state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans.
Badon was vocal about the lack of protective barriers after a woman was killed last year when she lost control of her vehicle and crossed over the I-10 median in the area, striking a charter bus filled with children.
Another woman was killed when she crossed over the interstate in the same area in 2011.
But one neighbor says cable barriers aren't all that's needed to keep drivers safe on the interstate in New Orleans East.
'I really think them putting the cable barriers there, that's not enough,' said Latisha Joyner, a lifelong New Orleans East resident. 'Someone needs to explain to us why the lights are not on.'
Streets lights have been spotty on I-10 in New Orleans East for years. Thursday, they were out for about a mile and a half stretch of the interstate between the Morrison and Crowder exits.
'I never understood why the lights are not on, because they're there, they're there for a purpose,' said Joyner.
A city spokesman said crews are working to fix the lights on I-10 by the fall, using $1.7 million in excess capital funds. Officials hope working lights, coupled with protective cable barriers, will help everyone feel safer along the important corridor.
The cable barriers are expected to be complete in the area by December.
The city says repairing streetlights in the area has been challenging for a number of reasons, including traffic control and worker safety, replacing stolen wiring and coordinating with Entergy on repairs to electrical feed points.