WALKER – Police and municipal workers are on the job Wednesday – after pulling an “all-nighter” on Tuesday – to track road conditions and provide city services, city officials said.
A priority for Walker police is to keep the Interstate 12 overpass at Walker South Road open to access Our Lady of Lake – Livingston, said Capt. John Sharp, public information officer.
“At 9 o’clock last night the overpass froze over, but we couldn’t risk closing it down,” Sharp said.
“Interstate 12 closed at the same time, so that was our only hospital and emergency room in Livingston Parish,” Sharp said.
The police captain, who is also in charge of the department’s Facebook social media page, credited assistance from the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and state Department of Transportation & Development.
“LPOHSEP got us a glycol truck to spray the road,” melt ice and keep both the I-12 interchange and Walker South Road open to the hospital.
As Sharp spoke, he was inspecting conditions under the overpass for the parish office.
Interstate 12 was still closed at noon Wednesday, he said, with the conditions of the eastbound lanes worse than the westbound lanes for ice.
Sharp said before noon that about 10 vehicles ended up in ditches or yards from skidding off roads.
“By and large, people did as we asked and stayed off the roads,’ he said.
Walker police issued a warning before 11 a.m. in front of Stine, 29200 Walker South Road, calling the road conditions “very hazardous.”
Another trouble spot was on Florida Boulevard in front of the construction zone at Walker High School, he said.
“Some were doing 360’s in the road,” Sharp said, “We have had five in the ditch over there now.”
But the police had no serious vehicle accidents resulting in property damage or injuries Tuesday or early Wednesday, he added.
Walker City Hall was closed Wednesday and will be closed Thursday, Mayor Jimmy Watson said.
City Hall is always closed on Friday. It will reopen at 7 a.m. Monday.
Essential city workers are on the job – and will continue working – according to Jamie Etheridge, city chief of operations.
“Essential personnel are still working to provide water, gas and sewer services,” Etheridge said.
City workers were out throughout Tuesday night, he said, and will be on standby Wednesday night.
If city residents encounter problems with their services, Etheridge said to call these numbers:
-- Water: (225) 806-9735.
-- Gas: (225) 337-1176.
-- Sewerage: (225) 413-9589.
-- Streets: (225) 303-4085.
-- Emergency Preparedness: (225) 337-6984.
-- Public works supervisor: (225) 303-8684.
The city also announced Wednesday that garbage pickup will be on Friday.
While Walker is monitoring it street and roads, Etheridge echoed warnings from law enforcement about travel.
“It’s better to not be on the roads if you can help it. Keep track of (road) conditions on social media,” Etheridge said.
“It can go from not so bad to really bad very quickly,” he said.
Part of the challenge is not only the problems created by cold weather, Etheridge said, but that the weather affects roads, which delay or prevent city workers from responding quickly.
Etheridge, a Louisiana native who worked in Illinois for 11 years, said he has experienced severe winter weather.
“Up there, they had the infrastructure – snowplows, equipment, salt stored up – to handle winter,” he said.
Water wells in Illinois – where temperatures can reach 0 degrees -- are indoors or enclosed with heaters, he said.
While City Hall will be closed, utility payments can be placed in the night drop box on the side of the building by the parking lot, according to a news release.
“If you need new gas services or to reconnect gas services, please call the answering service at 664-3123. They will be able to contact the on-call gas service technician,” the release said.
“As long as the road conditions are safe the on-call technician can go out to assist you. If the conditions are too dangerous, the on-call technician will come out when the roads are safe to drive on.”