24 January 2009

The epidemic spreads...

2 killed after train hits car in Edgard

So, another one. Another car trying to cross the tracks while a train is coming. Another two people killed, another child needlessly traumatized solely because they survived. Another report that no seat belts were being worn by the dead. Like a deer in headlights, the SUV seemingly froze as it hit the tracks... then boom. The SUV ended up being thrown nearly 150 feet, and all three passengers were ejected. The crossing had nothing to warn of the approach of the train, solely having a pair of crossbucks letting passing traffic know that train tracks were indeed present. There were no gates, no lights, no bells. Even as the engineer blew his horn, the SUV just sat there...

Louisiana is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to train/car collisions. Most of our crossings have only a pair of crossbucks, no safety measures. No gates, no lights, no sound. You just have to hope that you can hear the horn in time. Our all-knowing Legislature has done all of jack shit about this situation. Our local officials don't seem to know what they're doing about anything, and go with the cheapest solutions as a rule. Not the most inexpensive... the cheapest. There's a huge difference.

Seriously, is there anything more "shovel-ready" than "Mount gates and lights on all rail crossings in the state"? I'm sure that would be a nice shot in the arm for a depressive economy.

Until then, more lives will end and even more will be ruined as collateral damage.

15 January 2009

Roadtrip Report: January 14-15

This time, I remembered to pack the camera along with me in the Buick, henceforth referred here to as "Dreamweaver." Two days, one taking me to New Orleans East, another to Abita Springs.

Among the upd*tes:


I-510/LA 47: Covers almost the entire distance of Interstate 510's existence in New Orleans East, both northbound and southbound. The album is also marked for LA 47 due to I-510 multiplexing with it for 510's entire distance. 17 pictures, enjoy.


I-10: Added pictures of eastbound from just past Michoud Boulevard in New Orleans East to US 190 in Slidell.
US 190: Added a new shot of the very old BGS in Covington.
LA 36: Album updated, info in LA 59 entry.
LA 59: Added pictures from Interstate 12 north to the end of the LA 36/59 multiplex in Abita Springs, LA 36 album also updated with multiplex shots.

...Finally, junkyard kitties.

10 January 2009

Roadtrip Report: January 10

No pictures this time, this was strictly a test run for the Buick.


Taking my sister and brother-in-law to the DMV near Picayune, Mississippi, as well as a shakedown for my new Buick.


US 190 east from Lacombe to US 11
US 11 north from US 190 to LA 41/LA 3081
LA 3081 north from US 11/LA 41 to Spur LA 41
Spur LA 41 east from LA 3081 to I-59
I-59/US 11 north from Louisiana Exit 5A (Spur LA 41) to Mississippi Exit 1 (US 11 North/MS 607 South)
US 11 north from I-59 to the Picayune-area DMV
US 11 south from the DMV to MS 43
MS 43 south from US 11 to I-59
I-59 south from Mississippi Exit 6 (MS 43 North) to Louisiana Exit 1A (I-12)
I-12 west from Exit 85 (I-10/I-59) to Exit 74 (LA 434)
LA 434 south from I-12 to US 190

Among the things I saw:

I-59: New signage in Pearl River (Town limits are now marked on the interstate, both entering and leaving, along both northbound and southbound). Also, there appears to be new signage at Exit 11 (Pearl River Turnaround) - then again, it might just be new to me. Going into Mississippi, the first sign for Exit 1 is in Louisiana - it used to be at the end of the bridge over the Pearl. Similarly, the first sign for Louisiana Exit 11 southbound is now in Mississippi. The new gore point signage for Mississippi's exits is interesting, to say the least. I'll get pictures next time. I-59 from Exit 1 at least to Exit 6 (likely further than that) has been resurfaced recently - the new asphalt is nice.

US 11: There's a sweet railroad bridge over US 11 just to the north of Picayune, near the DMV. I will definitely be returning there with a camera.

Old MS 43: Between US 11 and I-59, going towards I-59, it is still signed as MS 43. From I-59, it is not signed as a highway. The road's condition has gotten a lot worse since the last time I was in Picayune.

MS 43: Brand new surface between US 11 and I-59. The new road has a lot more curves than the old, but it's still a sweet drive. Beware going southbound - I-59 sneaks up on you.

New highway mileage:

US 11: From Old MS 43 to the Picayune-area DMV
MS 43: "New" section between US 11 and I-59

05 January 2009

Across the Lake UPD*TE

Yours Truly is now the proud owner of a 1995 Buick Regal. Also, since I had to go all the way to New Orleans, I got some pics.

US 90 - Added three snaps along Jefferson Highway westbound
US 190 - Added two shots of westbound in Mandeville, where construction is nearly complete

Lake Ponchartrain Causeway - 26 snaps of the 23.8 mile toll bridge across Lake Ponchartrain - pics are NOT geotagged
Causeway Boulevard - 22 snaps of one of Metairie's most important north-south arteries; primarily connects US 61 and I-10 to the Causeway Bridge
New Orleans: Misc - Seven miscellaneous snaps within New Orleans; this may grow if I can salvage any other pics - pics are NOT geotagged
LA 611-1 - Nine snaps of the River Road along Jefferson Parish's east bank of the Mississippi River
LA 3046 - Seven snaps of South Causeway Boulevard between US 61 and US 90, which is also designated LA 3046

04 January 2009

Impending Baton Rouge chokepoint...

The Advocate - Project on I-10 to begin

Vague title, but the section in question is the one immediately east of the I-10/I-12 split in Baton Rouge, from said split to Siegen Lane, an underutilized stretch of highway (compared to I-12, itself seeing frequent congestion) that can still prove to be a headache. At only two lanes but servicing a growing commercial area, it's hitting on "underpowered" at times.

The construction should ease things through the area as each direction of I-10 will be widened by one lane. The overall project begins Monday and is slated to take about three years, costing $86.2 million.

Last month, a $100 million contract was signed for widening of part of Interstate 12. That work should begin in February, to widen eastbound I-12 from O'Neal Lane in Baton Rouge to just east of Pete's Highway in Denham Springs, and westbound from just west of 4-H Club Road to the aforementioned O'Neal. That project will last until around Thanksgiving in 2011...

As a result, Baton Rouge's eastern end will be a little trickier to get through for the next couple of years. Two alternative routes, US 61 (Airline Highway) and US 190 (Florida Blvd.) will see a lot more traffic as a result of both I-10 and I-12 seeing work. Seeing as few alternatives exist... good luck.

03 January 2009

From grief, an expression of beauty

Although this isn't road- or computer-related, one of the wonderful things about having your own blog is that you get to bend the rules from time to time.

Case in point:

Times-Picayune - Mother's colorful memorial to her son has both fans and critics

Everyone will lose a loved one in their lifetime. It's the most human act of all... people die. Some of them, though, are taken from us in a violent manner, and the people left behind react differently. Some swear revenge, only adding to the cycle of violence. Some withdraw until they become casualties themselves, lost to the grief.

Then there are those who choose to do something about it, in a positive way. They choose to fight the cycle of violence their own way, by not falling into it themselves.

On July 19, 2001, a man named David Ayo was murdered just steps from his door. His mother, Susan "Willow" Schroeder heard the gunshot, then went outside and held David in her arms as his life slipped away. The murderer was never caught. It's a tragic, yet sadly common story in New Orleans as long as I've been alive.

So Willow started to paint. The morning after the murder, she painted an angel over the bloodstain near his door. Even then, for a while, it seemed Willow would become another casualty herself. She became a recluse. Even then, she continued to paint. She turned her yard into a beautiful memorial, a positive expression of art over such a negative event. Eventually Hurricane Katrina hit the area, forcing her to venture out.

While many of her neighbors are understanding of this, some are not, most notably JoAnn Taylor. She's called the city over one part of the artistic expression, a painted sidewalk in front of the house in question. She's also been researching ways to get rid of the memorial entirely, looking to see if some city code prohibits the artwork covering Willow's house. She calls it graffiti.

Myself, I call it a refreshing change of pace, something befitting the very culture of New Orleans. Lest we forget, some of the more notable figures in the city include voodoo queen Marie Laveau, as well as music greats Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson. New Orleans is a city of eccentricity and unbridled artistic expression... not some soulless cookie-cutter suburb, showcasing little more than 1,000 drab shades of grey. It's the city of jazz and Mardi Gras, for crying out loud. There's more soul in a square block of New Orleans than in the entirety of some suburbian areas.

While there are tragedies in the city, there are also celebrations. Some say that New Orleanians can and do party at the drop of a hat, and this is what I see when I see photos of "David's House" - from tragedy, an explosive celebration of artwork and life.

Celebration. Life. Culture. Art. These are the things that New Orleans is.

Conformity. Bigotry. Corruption. Violence. These are the things that New Orleans should not be.

Finally, the last thing that amazes me in all this is that the city can't fix the damned sidewalks, but they can complain about a splash of paint over one of the few stretches not in disrepair.

People, let's get our priorities straight already.

(More on this can be found here: http://davidshouse.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/letter-from-robert-mendozza/)