Hwy 431 improvements create new safety concerns

Hwy 431 improvements create new safety concerns

A state project aimed at making La Highway 431 in Gonzales safer has created some serious hazards. 

One man said it has gotten so bad his childs school bus driver refuses to drive down his street. 9News has learned the job is significantly behind schedule and a local company is facing some serious fines.

Highway 431 has seen its fair share of trouble. The sharp curve between Airline highway and Weber City Road has been blamed for several deadly crashes. The state decided to change the design and widen the lanes and shoulders to make it safer, but people who live there said contractors dug up their yards several months ago, then suddenly stopped.

No work. Sloppy work. There's been weeks without any activity at all, Billy Reeves said.

Residents said trying to get in and out of their neighborhood has been a nightmare. One longtime resident, Herman Blank, described riding on the road as bumpy at best, and complained his truck drags gravel all the way to his carport. "My driveway is the worst in the world," Blank said.

Another resident, Cory Ranallo, said you almost need an off-road vehicle to get through what is now a dirt drive at the end of his street.

Yesterday we had an hour rain and it was basically just a mud pit, and you're just spinning in front of traffic that's going 50 to 60 miles per hour, Ranallo said. 

Ranallo shared with us a picture he took yesterday when he said his daughter's school bus got stuck.

I got a call from the school bus driver today, as well as the school, and they told me they are no longer able to bring the bus into the neighborhood to pick up my daughter, and they want her to stand at the highway. That is an unsafe situation, Ranallo said.

Safety is a big concern, but so is flooding. Pictures taken by another neighbor, Thomas Lanoux, shows the flooded ditches near homes in that neighborhood. After getting three feet of water in their houses during the 2016 flood, it is a troubling sight.

You have no control. It's hard to sit there and watch water inch closer and closer to your house, Reeves said.

The Louisiana DOTD said the contractor, Costal Bridge Company, was supposed to be finished with the project in January of 2017.  A year and a half later, the trucks sit idle and the project looks nowhere near finished. 

I'm not sure why we've been waiting over one year to have our roads fixed, Ranallo said.

The state said Coastal Bridge is responsible for the work and their schedule. The state added, since the contractor did not finish the project on time, the company will be fined for each day it goes over. At last check, the state said that total has reached $25,000.

The state said the new completion date is set for this September. Coastal Bridge Company has not responded to our calls or email.

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