Mothers of accident victims hope state lawmakers will fund cable barriers

Three area mothers, pushing for cable barriers, recently met with local lawmakers.
Three area mothers, pushing for cable barriers, recently met with local lawmakers.

STONEWALL, LA (KSLA) - Heartache and the hope for change is driving three mothers to continue their push for life-saving cable barriers on some Louisiana roadways.

Now their message may be heard in front of state lawmakers in Baton Rouge.

"Our overall goal was to come to see where legislators stand," said Kelly Hatfield, on the heels of a meeting with Sen. Sherri Buffington (R) of Keithville and Rep. Richard Burford (R) of Stonewall.

They sat down with Hatfield, Tammy Willson and Rebecca Bartley, just days before the start of the current legislative session.

Hatfield lost her daughter Megan in a 2012 crossover accident. Bartley's son Jonathon survived that same accident, but suffers from life long physical injuries as a result of the crash. Willson's daughter Casey Colley was killed this past December in a crossover accident along the 3132 Inner Loop.

Burford said he thinks the majority of lawmakers will support the initiative, as long as the need for the barriers for safety stays before the public and legislators. Burford and Buffington support the cause.

Research has proven that cable or concrete median barriers greatly reduce death related accidents along interstates and other high speed highways. Over the last 10 years, Texas has installed close to 1,000 miles of cable and concrete barriers.

"People will embrace it and want to see it happen," said Buffington, adding that finding funding for the project will be the hard part in. Louisiana is $12 billion behind in highway and bridge repairs. This is already considered a legislative session with a limited budget.

"It's always horrible when you have lives at stake and lost lives, and money becomes an issue,"  Burford said.

The two lawmakers suggested that the mothers consider testifying in front of the appropriations committee in April. They hope by sharing their stories with other lawmakers, they will find a way to fund barriers throughout Louisiana.

"We're going to stand up and fight," said Willson. "And our kids faces are going to be shown and we're going to be there and they're going to hear our voices."

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has already announced plans to put in cable barriers along Interstate 20 from the Texas state line to Mississippi. However the first phase of the project, through Bossier and Webster Parishes, is six months behind schedule due to bad weather and other planning issues.

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