A bill that would increase speeding enforcement though camera monitoring on one of Louisiana's most treacherous bridges moved closer to final passage Monday.
Republican Senate President Page Cortez's Senate Bill 435 would create a "highway safety corridor" on the 18-mile Interstate 10 Atchafalaya Basin Bridge connecting Lafayette and Baton Rouge, increasing signage, installing cameras and doubling fines.
"I've spent 15 years in (the Capitol) and I've never filed a bill that's gotten more attention than this one," said Cortez, who travels the bridge almost daily on his commute from his Lafayette home to Baton Rouge.
Cortez's bill, which has already cleared the Senate, now goes to the full House for debate.
He said reckless speeding and distracted driving is creating too many corridor-crippling and sometimes deadly accidents.
"Too many people are getting hurt and killed for us not to do something about it," Cortez told USA Today Network in a previous interview. "We have to create a safety corridor with different rules than are on a regular highway."
In 2021 there were 269 accidents that caused 89 injuries and two deaths, more than double the number of accidents from a decade ago, said Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson.
"What this will ultimately save is lives," said Wilson, who testified in favor of the bill and also commutes from his home in Lafayette.
Wilson and Cortez attribute the spike to increased speeding and distracted driving with cell phones. Both said motorists are more likely to speed on the bridge because they know there are no safe shoulders for police officers to park and monitor speeds in person.
"If you park police units in some places they're less than 18 inches from an 18-wheeler putting them over the edge," the Senate president said.
Cortez's bill would double speeding fines and use camera technology to catch speeders on the bridge. The speed limit would remain 55 mph for commercial trucks and 60 mph for other vehicles.
Drivers caught speeding would first be issued a notice, followed by a warning on the second violation and a fine on the third and subsequent violations.
About 80,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Atchafalaya Basin Bridge speeders may be clocked by cameras in future