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New Orleans I-10 pileup may be due to poor lighting, marsh fire

Last week we covered the massive chain of car accidents which caused I-10 to be closed in both directions last Thursday. Authorities say that approximately 40 cars were involved in the pileup. Two people were killed, 22 others were hospitalized, and another 37 people suffered personal injuries but refused treatment.

Authorities blame the crash on a combination of fog and smoke from a marsh fire which has been smoldering since August. It is unclear why authorities have not put out the fire earlier or whether other crashes have been blamed on this fire.

To compound matters, it appears there is a serious lighting problem on I-10 where the crash happened.

"There are lights that are out along the interstate in eastern New Orleans. I've gotten complaints about it," said Jon Johnson, who is a New Orleans City Councilmember. "I drive along there regularly and there are several lights that are out."

Apparently nearly two miles of highway lighting was out near the site of the pileup and it is New Orleans' responsibility to fix the lighting under state law.

"We're paying taxes -- high taxes -- and nothing is being done for us out here, nothing," said one unhappy resident who lives nearby. The resident added that the unlit lights and smoke have been a problem for a while. "It was just a matter of time, just a matter of time, and if they don't fix it, it's going to happen again."

"They really need to get some lights back here," another resident said. "Once you come off 510, once you get past Jazzland there is no lights. If you come up Lake Forest Boulevard, no lights. Nothing, and that is bad."

It appears that smoke and bad lighting has caused another crash in the same area today Authorities say that a three-car crash happened this morning shortly before 8:30 a.m. Poor visibility from the marsh fire smoke is believed to have been a contributing factor.

Source: Times-Picayune, "I-10 eastbound closed at Michoud Blvd. due to multi-car crash," Jan. 4, 2011; WWLTV, "After massive I-10 pileup, New Orleans East residents point to poor lighting," Tania Dall, Dec. 29, 2011

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