Road construction causes problems for fire dept. - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Road construction causes problems for fire dept.

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PRAIRIEVILLE, LA (WAFB) -

A road widening project in Ascension Parish is causing traffic backups along the highway that, during some times of the day, stops cars right in front of a fire station.

"They are times though when traffic is really flowing I've seen a truck pull to the street for sometime before traffic in both directions will yield and allow the truck to pull out and that's with lights and sirens going on the truck," said Prairieville Fire Chief Mark Stewart.

Stewart understands road construction comes with the parish's growth, but he would like something done about the congestion it's causing right outside the fire station.

"Some type of flashing type sign that will indicate emergency vehicles entering the road," said Stewart.

While Chief Stewart thinks that a sign or a signal is best for their problems, fire departments in East Baton Rouge Parish have come up with their own solution.

10 years ago, some Baton Rouge emergency response agency units were equipped with what's called "Opticom". the device shoots out a coded signal, from as far back as 2,000 feet, to an approaching traffic light. The code turns the light green and makes the other traffic lights turn red.

"The engines have them, the ladder trucks have them, those larger response vehicles are the ones that are going to be set," said Baton Rouge Fire Department Spokesman Curt Monte.

Monte says the city installed the system after experiencing similar issues pulling out of the fire stations as Prairieville is having now.

Back in Ascension, District 3 Chief Stewart would be happy with anything to get drivers to get out of their way.

"To get people's attention, let them know there's fixing to be something entering the road here somewhere, I need to start slowing down and seeing where that vehicle is entering the roadway," said Stewart.

Chief Stewart says installing the Opticom device would be great, but given the size of Prairieville, it might be too expensive at this point.

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