DOTD: Washington Exit relief could be 3-4 years away
BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development submitted a request for a $100 million grant for upgrades to I-10 near Lafayette.
If approved, officials say the $100 million FASTLANE grant will help the state complete a 15-mile pavement replacement between I-10/49 interchange and the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.
“We’re committed to reengaging our federal partners to bring our tax dollars back to Louisiana to make the critical investments we need in our infrastructure,” Governor John Bel Edwards says. “If we’re awarded these grants, we will have the ability to free up additional state dollars to invest in other projects around the state.”
DOTD says if the money is granted, it would free up other money for projects along the I-10 corridor, including a new Washington Street off ramp in Baton Rouge.
"You would potentially see relief in 3-4 years," DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson says. "One small piece of it, not the big chunk."
DOTD says a left exit ramp could be built on I-110 southbound to help take pressure away from the merge coming off the Mississippi River bridge. DOTD couldn't say exactly where that ramp would go.
"We are confident in what we're doing so much so that we are already beginning the process to design that and that will prevent the merge of traffic from I-110 interfering from traffic off of the bridge coming to Baton Rouge," Wilson explains.
Drivers who sit in traffic say a new exit would help.
"I work in Plaquemine and it takes me an hour to and hour and a half to get home every day," said Charles Haynes.
According to the Edward’s office, the project near Lafayette will improve a portion of the interstate system that carried 120 million tons of freight worth $204 billion in 2015.
The entire project is estimated to cost more than $300 million.
Wilson said he plans to work aggressively with federal partners to bring funds into the state to fund more infrastructure projects.
“Travel conditions on this corridor demand action, as it represents half of the worst conditions on all of Interstate 10 in Louisiana,” Wilson says. “Much of the road along the project area was last paved in the 1960s, resulting in poor pavement conditions today.
DOTD says widening the interstate from the bridge to the I-10/12 split is a much bigger project but it's moving along.