Lafayette Lawmaker Proposes Basin Bridge Commission, Police
UPDATE, Tuesday, May 11: The House Transportation Committee has voluntarily deferred Rep. Jonathan Goudeau's (R-Lafayette) bill that would create a governing authority and police force for the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. Rep. Goudeau says he will bring the bill back to consideration later in the legislative session after allowing the district attorneys and sheriffs in St. Martin and Iberville Parishes an opportunity to "come back to the table."
Rep. Goudeau joined Bernie and Ian on Tuesday's edition of Acadiana's Morning News to discuss the latest developments.
ORIGINAL STORY, Monday, May 10:
The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge could have its own governing authority and police force if a Lafayette legislator gets his way.
Rep. Jonathan Goudeau (R-Lafayette) is proposing the creation of the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Commission and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge Commission police.
Under House Bill 631, the commission would be allowed to promote, plan, finance, develop, construct, control, regulate, operate and maintain a transportation and utility corridor serving the urban and rural areas of Iberville and St. Martin parishes located along the bridge. The commission would be comprised of three members--one appointed by the Iberville Parish Government, one appointed by the St. Martin Parish Government, and one appointed by the governor.
The proposed body would, among other duties, be responsible for setting the speed limit on the Basin Bridge.
The proposed commission police force would patrol the bridge and have the same authority as a sheriff’s deputy. The bill does not specify how large the police force would be. In fact, the fiscal note on the bill says the department's size will be one factor in determining how much money the new agencies would cost the state.
According to Rep. Goudeau, the state would bear the burden of the startup costs of the police force. Rep. Goudeau says the commission would repay the state with revenues from traffic fines the agency collects. Rep. Goudeau also says the police force would be based at the Butte La Rose exit.
One KPEL listener reached out to us to say she supports the legislation.
"I live in Butte La Rose, and the idea of having this presence in this area is great," Lindsay Hayes told us by texting us through the KPEL News App. "When the bridge shuts down all of that traffic comes through our little town, causing a lot of issues as well as heavy traffic on our pontoon bridge."
The House Transportation Committee will consider the bill today.
Bernie and Ian's full interview with Rep. Goudeau is below. Click the button to listen.