Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blowouts Happen

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.

And so Barbara and I expected it to be when we left for Atlanta last Sunday, from Houston.

The rain was a nice surprise. Our unexpected event was the total closure of Interstate 10 from Lafayette to Baton Rouge, LA. A 55 mile-stretch of a major interstate corridor from Houston to New Orleans will remain closed until at least December 4.

Now you know what we know: I-10 will be closed because a fire at a Bridas Energy USA natural gas well erupted last Thursday evening, before we left Houston. Bridas workers were drilling a new well and the pressure blew the line, which then burst into flames. The well is about two miles west of the Ramah/Maringoin exit on the Atchafalaya Basin floodway side – you could see the flames from the causeway.

I missed this important bit of information and so did a few thousand other holiday travelers. It may even have been in last Sunday’s Houston Chronicle, which we didn’t read before we left the house because our copy was soaked from all the rain.

You know the area, right? That long, long causeway across the flood basin, where cellphones don’t work and there’s just one or two places to stop…we’ve been taking this route to and from Atlanta for years.

Without knowing exactly why, we followed the quickly revised Louisiana Highway Department/US DOT alternate. With all the rest of the eastbound unfortunates, we went northward onto Interstate 49 at Lafayette, then east on U.S. 190 at Opelousas, through Livonia, to Baton Rouge.

This part was not an adventure: Livonia, LA, has two traffic lights and Sunday afternoon traffic was backed up for miles while the good folks of the Livonia police department tried to cope with five times the normal traffic.

Backups aside, we really had no other problems. With no loss of life that I can find, though, it’s typical that Louisiana’s governor, Kathleen Blanco, would use words like ”appalling” to describe the incident. The Gov’s hindsighted comments notwithstanding, my hat’s off to Louisiana state and parish officials and DOT for organizing the best possible solution around an awkwardly placed incident.

It’s also given “over the river and through the woods” to the Fusillos for Thanksgiving a completely new meaning. We’ll be taking another highway home to Houston this weekend.

The Advocate photo by Richard Alan Hannon, with thanks.

1 comment:

Richard Laurence Baron said...

The Louisiana State Police said on Monday (26 November) that I-10 had been reopened. Way to go, Cudd and LSP.