For 11 days – beginning Nov. 15 – Interstate 10 traffic going to and from Lafayette was rerouted because of an oil well fire.
Just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, a natural gas well belonging to Bridas Energy began leaking and ignited. As a safety precaution, Louisiana State Police ordered Interstate 10 traffic rerouted to U.S. Highway 90.
The good news is the roadway is open again – 10 days ahead of schedule.
Cudd Well Control, the company hired to mitigate the incident, notified state police Sunday that the well had been successfully capped. The damage was not as extensive as originally predicted, according to Cudd Well Control. And the state Department of Environmental Quality and state Department of Transportation and Development agreed the air quality in the area was safe.
The work was originally slated to be done Dec. 4, so the reopening of the interstate early was good news for travelers who utilize I-10.
But the incident led Gov. Kathleen Blanco to call for a moratorium on drilling near the interstate until a review of the incident can be conducted.
It’s a reminder of just how tenuous Louisiana’s evacuation route – the only major artery out for much of South Louisiana – can be. State police estimate that 116 crashes were investigated along U.S. 90 between Lafayette and New Orleans over the 11 day stretch, a reminder, too, that motorists in a hurry to get to a Saints game or grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving are not always the most attentive. Fortunately, none of the crashes investigated resulted in a fatality.
For lawmakers slated to take office in January 2008, the event should serve as a warning that Interstate 49 is long overdue. Especially faced with emergency conditions, South Louisianans need a safe way to travel.