Flashing lights, not guard rails, slated for Stringer Bridge Road

The winding, two-lane highway along an Ascension Parish bayou where two children died in 2012 in a car accident will be getting flashing warning lights as a new safety measure, state highway officials announced Wednesday.

Department of Transportation and Development officials said the flashing lights will be installed on a key portion of Stringer Bridge Road.

The project is expected to be completed at the end of May.

“There will be at least one (flashing light) coming into the curve from each direction,” Ascension Parish Councilman Randy Clouatre said Wednesday.

“Everything is for heightened awareness of the curve” in the road, Clouatre said.

Clouatre, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez and State Rep. Johnny Berthelot, R-Gonzales, met Wednesday morning with DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas in Baton Rouge, when the announcement was made.

In February 2012, a mother driving along Stringer Bridge Road, which is also La. 935, lost control of her car and drove into Black Bayou.

The mother and two children in the car were able to escape, but the mother’s two young daughters died.

Four lawsuits filed in the 23rd Judicial District are pending against DOTD and parish government over the deaths of Faith Castilaw, 9, and Patience Lobell, 7.

DOTD made several safety improvements after the crash, including putting in centerline rumble strips, restriping the edge-lines of the road with reflective striping, installing additional signage and putting reflective tape on curve-warning sign posts.

The agency also completed a study in June examining other potential options for long-term improvement.

Those included closing the road, installing guardrails between the road and Black Bayou, and realigning the road or adding a bulkhead along the bayou.

Residents pushed for guard rails after the fatal crash.

Rodney Mallett, a spokesman for DOTD, said Wednesday that the agency “looked at the recommendations from the study and found that the improvements already made and the addition of the flashing lights would be sufficient for travel of the road.”

Martinez did not have any additional comments on Wednesday, but through Public Information Officer Lester Kenyon, referred to his written remarks in a news release issued by DOTD.

“This is great news,” Martinez is quoted in the release as saying. “We appreciate the continued efforts by DOTD in making this a safer roadway.”