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Motorists travel along I-10 Wednesday, July 6, 2016, between Lafayette and Breaux Bridge.

Advocate staff photo by Leslie Westbrook

More steps may be needed to slow drivers around two accident-prone construction sites near Lafayette, Louisiana's transportation chief said Tuesday.

Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said the problem is focused on two work zones where Interstate 10 is being widened between Lafayette and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.

The cost of the nearly 15-mile project is $189 million, mostly federal dollars.

The two sections are being worked on over a stretch of highway used by about 60,000 motorists per day.

One is a 5.5-mile stretch between Lafayette and Breaux Bridge.

The other extends 3.5 miles between Henderson and the Atchafalaya Basin.

Wilson, in an interview, said accidents in the two areas are up about 50 percent since before work began, to about 18.

He said part of the problem may be varying speed limits — 65 mph before the work site, then 60 mph, then 65 mph again.

"What we are looking at is making them all the same speed," Wilson said.

Accidents are especially troublesome, he said, because the work limits the ability of motorists to go around troubled spots.

"The fact is the disruption of an accident is different," Wilson said. "There is no room for error, so we have taken steps to make sure those structures where you have very limited shoulders are clean."

Construction on each section will last about 2½ years.

After that, a third section in the corridor will start undergoing improvements.

More expansion is on the way since I-10 is about to be widened between Highland Road and La. 73 in the Baton Rouge area.

"I am more concerned about the trend that this is setting," Wilson said of the Lafayette area accidents.

The rash of mishaps sparked an unusual "work zone awareness" news release by DOTD officials last week.

The statement urged motorists to use caution around concrete barriers, narrow lanes, lane shifts and slow moving equipment.

It also said the sites have an increased presence of police, speed trailers to display how fast motorists are traveling and steps to discourage lane changes.

A DOTD employee was killed in July in a work zone accident.

Work on the section between Lafayette and Breaux Bridge began in June.

Construction on the Henderson to Breaux Bridge stretch started about six weeks later.

The DOTD secretary lives in the Lafayette area.

"I travel it every day; I live that frustration that our drivers see," he said in an interview with Clarence Buggs on 107.3 FM radio.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.