- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:


Dec. 2

The American Press of Lake Charles on Louisiana highway safety:

Statistics show that Louisiana highways are becoming safer - good news for everybody that travels by car or truck.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reported recently that deaths on Louisiana roads have plunged 20 percent in recent years and fatal accidents are down by 28 percent.

According to the Department of Transportation and Development, Louisiana experienced 651 fatal collisions in 2013, reduced from 900 in 2007. Injury vehicle mishaps fell 10 percent during the same time period.

DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas said road deaths were reduced from 916 in 2008 to 737 last year. More work needs to be done. Crashes in Louisiana are still above the national average, but the downward trend is in line with the national trends. Louisiana State University compiled most of the figures from state vehicle accident reports.

The figures are included in the Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan, which is a list of desired road and bridge projects the state plans if money for them becomes available.

However, not as promising in the report are the statistics which show less improvement in preventing crashes caused by distracted drivers than drunk or aggressive drivers. Louisiana has already banned the use of cell phones and text messaging by drivers.

Officials at the DOTD noted that the state needs $178 million to tackle safety issues, including $127 million around railroad crossings. In at least 27 percent of the fatal accidents, speeding was a factor, according to a July study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Kevin Trull, the deputy director of the Louisiana High Safety Commission, recently said that increased safety belt usage is one of the reasons why traffic fatalities have been reduced in recent years.

Trull also said there needs to be more reduction in the 42 percent of fatalities which involved alcohol.

Improving highway safety is a never-ending endeavor. Let’s keep it up.




Nov. 30

The Advocate on the Water Institute of the Gulf Research and Conference Center :

Because coastal erosion is threatening the very existence of Louisiana, we have welcomed the development of not only physical restoration projects but the intellectual infrastructure to combat coastline loss.

That is going to be advanced by the development of a permanent research center on the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge. The $22 million Water Institute of the Gulf Research and Conference Center is just the first project in a build-out of the institute’s physical spaces.

The institute will be housed on two floors of the new building, with a third floor devoted to academic conventions and research conferences.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Water Institute President Chip Groat were among the speakers at a groundbreaking for the new center.

By 2017, the institute will move from rented space to the new headquarters.

It’s a great project, like the parks and convention spaces along the river in downtown New Orleans. Our cities need to be able to look upon the river, the reason for the existence of our communities since the 17th century. This new project harkens back to Baton Rouge’s river roots, said John Davies, president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which played a leadership role in the institute’s formation.

But it’s not just a matter of physical development, although that will be impressive. What matters is what the institute does, and that includes a tremendous amount of technical research into Louisiana’s river deltas and those around the world facing similar challenges.

“We strive to conduct world-class applied research focused on sustaining the vitality of the world’s great coasts and deltas,” said Groat, a veteran coastal scientist at LSU who returned from the University of Texas to head the new institute. “Our roots are in Louisiana’s great delta and coast.”

The institute hopes to expand from about 45 scientists, engineers and technology specialists to about 80 in the next five years. The institute will adjoin the offices of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the LSU Center for River Studies, also now under construction.

We hope that the institute, collaborating closely with not only LSU but Tulane University and other research institutions, will help spur not only new knowledge about the coast’s challenges but perhaps one day generate economic returns.

Jindal’s ambitions for the center include its potential as “a magnet for water management research worldwide” that he hopes will one day generate direct and indirect jobs in water management in the state.

As the institute expands, it can and should be a central research hub for the state and federal agencies working in the Louisiana coastal zone. We have high hopes for its prospects.




Dec. 1

The News-Star of Monroe on Louisiana’s election season:

Wanted: a few good men and women.

Election season in Louisiana never ends, and on the heels of electing a new governor, legislators and parish officers, the state is gearing up for its spring elections.

This includes a Louisiana presidential primary and municipal elections in 26 municipalities. In northeastern Louisiana, Columbia will be electing a mayor and police chief; and in Ouachita Parish, voters will be deciding Monroe and Richwood municipal offices.

Qualifying for the March 5 primary begins Monday and runs through Friday.

Voters may be weary from the constant stream of elections in Louisiana. Candidates may have a hard time getting their attention.

But the decision of those who do cast their ballots will determine how quickly the town of Richwood will move out of the control of a fiscal administrator and given back to the elected leaders to govern. Monroe voters will determine the makeup of a government that will continue the bickering between council and mayor or one where officials will work together to plot a course of action together.

It’s our hope that engaged, articulate candidates will step forward to argue the issues. Among the issues we expect to the addressed in Monroe are public safety, a new arena, litter control and industrial development. The voters deserve a competitive field of candidates who can excite them with their vision.

We will be interested in hearing Richwood candidates explain their plan to lead the town to fiscal stability after years of uncertainty.

It all starts with qualifying.

Local candidates can qualify at the their parish clerk of court’s office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To qualify, potential candidates must submit required paperwork and payment to make their candidacy official.

A candidate may also qualify by filing a nominating petition. Petition forms are available at the parish clerk of court’s office or the secretary of state’s office.

Voters will decide the direction our municipalities based on the choices presented them. Let’s hope a few good men and women step up and present themselves as public servants ready to serve their community.



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