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Say it ain't so: Study finds I-10 should be widened, new bridge needed

11 months 2 weeks 4 days ago February 02, 2016 Feb 2, 2016 Tuesday, February 02 2016 February 02, 2016 3:11 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - A gaggle of business executives issued a report on the region's road issues Tuesday, blaming a backlog of projects in part for a lack consensus over its highest priority projects.

The analysis by CRISIS - Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions - identified four key areas for construction and traffic improvement: widening I-10 one lane in both directions through Baton Rouge, building a "commuter route" from Ascension into EBR, a new bridge and increasing the use of the bridge on Highway 190 through a North Bypass.

The report isolated the use of toll roads to help facilitate funding for projects. Like any plan to deal with traffic, the ideas are costly. The widening project would hit the $350 million mark - or could be higher, a new route between EBR and Ascension would approach $180 million, a new river bridge exceeds $1 billion and building a bypass and piping more traffic over the "Old Mississippi River Bridge" hits nearly $800 million. The plan, though, said the latter two projects could see costs cut in half through tolls.

"This report benefits from bringing business and industry to the table to participate in an analysis led by our Metropolitan Planning Organization, so we can jointly promote priority transportation projects needed to get our Capital Region moving," Baton Rouge mayor Kip Holden said in a statement.

The state highway department said the input is valuable and always considered when state engineers approach a new project.

"The CRISIS analysis is aligned with the newly adopted Statewide Transportation Plan. DOTD will continue to work with our public partners as well as local, state and federal partners to address the state's transportation needs," a DOTD spokesperson said.

In November, the state's transportation plan listed widening the interstate system through Baton Rouge as a high-priority proposal. A new river crossing fell into the "Priority B" list. The Transportation Plan itself is a 30-year projection that was first developed in 2003.

"This study confirms the reality business and industry have been experiencing for years, the infrastructure needs of the Capitol Region are not being met and it is time for immediate action," said CRISIS co-chair Tom Yura, Senior Vice President and General Manager at BASF. "CRISIS is working collaboratively with our public officials and is offering efficient and cost-effective solutions that will not only resolve our current infrastructure crisis, but begin to address transportation needs we all benefit from as our region grows."

Click HERE to read more about the CRISIS plan or HERE to see a slide show of ideas from the team.

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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