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Amid flood of complaints over Intracoastal Bridge traffic, officials making big changes

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PORT ALLEN - West Baton Rouge officials say they're taking more measures to alleviate the major traffic headache at the Intracoastal Bridge amid ongoing repairs to the roadway.

In new release Thursday, DOTD announced they'd be making adjustments to the large metal plates being used during the repairs, which have caused problems for drivers. Workers will soon be adding rubber ramps to make driving over the plates smoother, and they'll be reduced in size so that only one lane will be affected at a time. DOTD is also limiting the number of joints being removed at a time to six until the impact of the changes can be determined.

Beginning Friday night and ending March 15, drivers will see alternating lane closures on the bridge so crews can replace the joints. The closures will run from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. each day.

Sheriff Mike Cazes also said he would be positioning motorcycle units and barricades along LA 1 to keep people from using the service road to speed around other drivers near the bridge.

The announcement comes after WBRZ highlighted the swarm of complaints over the ongoing repairs at the bridge. Metal plates have been placed over the roadway in several spots where crews are making fixes to the underside of the structure.

While the plates are intended to allow drivers to pass unimpeded, commuters see them as impromptu speed bumps and have been slowing to a crawl to pass over them. The slowdown has caused hours-long delays on the bridge for days.

Ken Albarez with the sheriff's office said besides installing metal plates on the bridge, the other option would be to close one lane at a time. He said that would ultimately result in "twice the wait."

Albarez said he has spoken to DOTD officials about the project and they hope to have the northbound lanes repaired by the end of the weekend. After that, they'll move on to the southbound lanes with an expected completion date in early summer.

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