A tanker truck carrying herbicide crashed in a residential area of south Baton Rouge on Tuesday afternoon.
The tank did not breach, but residents are anxious about the 18-wheelers that occasionally rumble through their neighborhoods on two-lane roads that appear ill-suited for large trucks.
Tammy Rivault lives near the intersection of Highland Road and Gardere Lane and said she’s seen at least three previous crashes at the same site where the truck crashed Tuesday.
“It’s been a problem but not a problem where anyone’s gotten hurt, so it’s not on anyone’s radar,” she said.
Tuesday’s crash, which happened about 1 p.m., involved only the 18-wheeler, and no one was injured, though it did close a portion of Highland Road for several hours, said city police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola.
A hazardous materials team was dispatched to the crash scene, summoned as a precaution because no chemicals were actually spilled in the wreck, Coppola said.
It’s a tight turn from one two-lane road to another at Gardere and Highland, and sometimes trucks wind up in the ditch, as was the case this week.
According to state records, there were 11 crashes at the intersection between 2011 and 2015, all nonfatal, said Department of Transportation and Development spokesman Rodney Mallett.
Records don’t indicate that any of the crashes involved 18-wheelers, he said. However, Mallett said, it is possible that a crash was not reported or was recorded as happening at another location.
James Morrissey, a deacon at St. Jude Catholic Church on a corner of the intersection, said he’s seen two or three big rigs tip over and cause traffic snarls in the past few years.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a common occurrence, but it’s not a surprise,” he said.
Eventually, officials hope to extend nearby Staring Lane, which would give truck drivers a straight shot on a four-lane road from Interstate 10 to Nicholson Drive.
“(The DOTD) really want the trucks to take that route. It’s a much more direct route,” said city-parish transportation and drainage director Stephen Bonnette.
However, the project is being studied and isn’t likely to be built anytime soon. It may also depend on what funding is available from the state, Bonnette said.
Several roads in the area are also part of some infrastructural horse trading between the local and state government.
Once the proposed Staring extension is complete, the state expects to take it over. Meanwhile, the city is planning to absorb several state roads, including Highland, which is jointly maintained at present.
However, Bonnette said, the state has to make sure roads are at an “acceptable level” of maintenance before turning them over to a local government, and DOTD has to give the city-parish enough funding to pay for 40 years of upkeep.
A large transfer involving several state roads in urban areas is in the works, and Bonnette expects a deal will be signed sometime this year, though the actual handoff will take longer.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.