DOTA safety move irks town officials

Wade McIntyre

SORRENTO - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development wants to give the town a raised  median and safety gates at the Hwy. 22 railroad crossing, but some town officials don’t want it.

DOTD engineer Bill Shrewsberry said construction would probably start late this year or early next, in an effort to improve safety.

The engineer indicated he was unprepared to answer questions about the railway going through town, but said said safety issues were at the heart of the proposed 150-foot median and safety gate.

The installation would be based on traffic loads, 2 wrecks that have occurred a the site since 2000, and possible train speeds of 79 mph if a New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge passenger train begins operation in the future.

Councilman Lionel Melancon Jr. said he was against the proposal because it would hurt business and in town and create access issues in some parts of Sorrento.

Melancon, a truck driver, said the proposal would also make turning difficult for tractor-trailers and make the roadway more dangerous when they are making turns.

Melancon was supported by other members of the council who said they would write a letter to DOTD with their objections. Mayor Blake Melancon said he was genuinely concerned about resident safety in certain parts of town if an evacuation was needed in the event of a catastrophic emergency.

LeBlanc also announced that garbage collection rates from the town garbage collection contractor Allied Waste will not be increased.

In other Sorrento business, the town’s police clerk of three months, Judy Killian, resigned from her position July 27.  Killian had replaced former police clerk Tracy Loupe who was terminated earlier this year.

Also, the town changed the dates of its annual Boucherie Festival, moving it back one week to the Oct. 16-18 weekend, in order to bring in a carnival with an open date.

Town Assistant Clerk Fern Barnett said advance ticket sales for rides would be available with $24 worth of rides for $20.

Sorrento will hold its annual Cops and Kids event at the Sorrento Civic Center Aug. 14.

In other business, the council:

• Agreed to send a letter to Oakwood Estates trailer park stating that it would take action as allowed by law if the park sewer lanes are not brought up to town code standards within 30 days. The park is not in the town limits, but town officials say it contributes to the overflow of Sorrento’s sewer ponds because of the park’s failure to properly maintain its sewer lines.

• Hired two reserve police officers, Katherine Gill of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Michael Aime, a post-certifed officer who lives in Sorrento.