Less than one week after a 40 car pileup killed two people and sent dozens more to the hospital, another multi-car accident closed the same portion of Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans. The three car accident occurred at approximately 8 am Wednesday morning and injured one person. Following the crash, New Orleans police closed all lanes of I-10 for about an hour during the busiest part of the early morning commute due to smoke from a smoldering marsh fire which apparently caused poor visibility for drivers.
Although the previous 40 car pileup was blamed on dense fog, Wednesday’s accident was not the first time this stretch of road has seen heavy smoke. New Orleans officials stated they believe the current fire is in the same location as one that created heavy smog which lasted for several days in August. Because the city believes any attempts to extinguish the fire on the wooded former wetlands will only create more smoke, the fire will merely be monitored from both the ground and the air for the time being. According to officials, the fire has the potential to smolder indefinitely.
The City of New Orleans has taken heavy criticism because nearby street lights installed in the center of I-10 were not operational at the time of either accident. Although the city claims it repaired the lights as recently as last July, a local tow-truck driver stated the area has been in the dark since last summer. He and others believe the darkness contributed to both of the recent multi-vehicle crashes.
In October, all efforts to repair broken street lights in New Orleans were temporarily suspended over purported funding issues. According to a representative from the Mayor’s office, street light repairs in the area of the accident are now completed. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has also recently installed smoke and fog driver warning signs.
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