Last Modified: Saturday, August 10, 2013 5:01 PM
Is a passport necessary to fly out of the New Orleans airport?
If the plane is leaving the U.S., then yes. But if it’s merely a domestic flight, then a Louisiana driver’s license will suffice.
The federal REAL ID Act of 2005 directs states to standardize the identification cards and driver’s licenses they issue to residents. But the state Legislature in 2008 passed a measure that bars the Office of Motor Vehicles from implementing the federal law.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in December granted a deferment — at least six months long, effective in mid-January — to states that, like Louisiana, had yet to comply with the law, which sets protocols for issuing ID cards and lists security features that the documents must include.
Stephen Campbell, commissioner of the state Office of Motor Vehicles, told The Informer on Wednesday that the deferment is still in place and that the federal government has yet to mandate that Louisiana issue REAL ID-compliant licenses.
The Department of Homeland Security had planned to announce a compliance schedule this fall, but Campbell — noting the recent announcement of department Secretary Janet Napolitano’s departure — said the earliest date would likely be in 2014.
Some lawmakers at this year’s legislative session unsuccessfully tried to pass a measure to ensure Louisiana’s compliance with the law. But the Legislature, via Senate Concurrent Resolution 119, did set up a task force “to study all issues and disputes related to implementation” of the federal law.
The task force — comprising a mixture of elected and appointed officials, or their designees — must present its findings and recommendations to lawmakers no later than two months before the 2014 regular session, which will begin March 10.
Does the parish still plan to construct a turnabout at the intersection of Nelson and Ham Reid Road?
Yes, said Tim Conner, parish engineer.
“Final plans for the roundabout at the intersection of Ham Reid Road and Nelson Road should be completed by the end of this year,” he wrote in an email.
“The next phase will be to acquire the required right of way and relocate utilities out of the way for construction. We would anticipate construction to begin near the end of 2014.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts reduce congestion and — since engines aren’t idling at stop lights — lessen both pollution and fuel use.
Additionally, the agency says, roundabout installation leads to a 90 percent reduction in traffic deaths over traditional intersections, along with 76 percent fewer injuries and 35 percent fewer car accidents — including a near-total elimination of head-on collisions and high-speed right-angle crashes.
In a traditional cross-shaped intersection, the highway administration says, the paths of vehicles — turning left or right or heading straight — can converge at any of 32 points, half of which could involve broadside and head-on collisions. Roundabouts have only eight convergence points.
The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org