State to spend $20-25 million on new Washington Street off-ramp
BATON ROUGE - An announcement was made Thursday regarding the future of the Washington Street exit in Old South Baton Rouge.
The governor, joined by city, state and congressional representatives, announced a new off-ramp is to be constructed at the Washington exit to help with the traffic problem. The current exit is often criticized as one of the reasons eastbound I-10 bottlenecks over the river. Delays happen often and at odd times - during rush hour and random weekends. Traffic can back up through West Baton Rouge and reach as far as the Iberville Parish line.
The state said construction on a new ramp could begin during summer in 2018. The project will cost between $20 and $25 million.
Wednesday, the governor and other leaders discussed work on I-10 west of the Atchafalaya Basin. The interstate will be resurfaced and widened from the I-10 Basin Bridge to the I-10/I-49 interchange. Money for work there is funded by a $60 million highway grant. As WBRZ.com previously reported, federal money used for work in the Lafayette area would free up money to be used in Baton Rouge.
"We will be in a position to redirect resources to other critical infrastructure needs across Louisiana," Governor John Bel Edwards said when the grant funding was announced in June.
The issue at the exit in Baton Rouge is no secret to drivers, state traffic engineers or even federal officials. When the president visited Baton Rouge earlier this year, both the mayor and governor discussed the interstate traffic situation with President Obama.
"The situation has reached such a point that it creates a significant danger to the traveling public," the mayor told the president as they drove through the corridor after his arrival. Then, the mayor said President Obama was supportive of listening and discussing any possible federal solution to the troubles.
Congressman Garret Graves has been an outspoken advocate of federal assistance dealing with the traffic problems.
"This probably should have been anticipated 40 years ago," Graves said in June. "We should have been well on a path to having it addressed by now."
A left exit will be added to I-110 southbound, freeing the exit-only lane on I-10 east just after the end of the Mississippi River Bridge and 10/112 merge.
"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," DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson explained.
In five to seven years, I-10 would be widened to further help with traffic flow through the downtown Baton Rouge and Mississippi River Bridge areas.
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