Amid I-10 expansion announcement, WBR wishes for new bridge
PORT ALLEN - Officials announced Friday I-10 will be expanding from the bridge to the split, avoiding the West Baton Rouge area. Folks in that area are hoping for some traffic relief, but they know the expansion won't be a final fix. They want a new bridge.
"We've been open for 10 years almost, and I've watched traffic get progressively worse,” said Jason Hammack, the owner of Court Street Cafe in Port Allen. “Around 2 or 3 p.m. is when [traffic] starts to build up, but if there’s an accident, all bets are off.”
Hammack says the traffic negatively affects his business. Shipments from Mississippi and Lafayette often arrive late due to the delays.
"When I don't have certain commodities that I can't make the product with then I have to put a sold-out item on my computer, and I can't sell,” Hammack said.
This is why Hammack is happy to hear I-10 will be expanding to keep traffic flowing. But he says more needs to happen to help the west side of the river.
"If this region is going to continue growing, we're going to have to have a third bridge to cross the river somewhere south of here."
West Baton Rouge Parish President Pee-Wee Berthelot agrees.
"It's not going to be a total fix, we still need a new bridge,” Berthelot said.
Berthelot says he understands why I-10 isn't expanding in West Baton Rouge.
"Because we all have to shrink down to get on the bridge, we're not adding lanes on to the bridge, I don't know how much good it will do,” Berthelot said.
Overall, the parish president says the expansion will help commuters in his parish.
"Anytime we can get that traffic flowing through East Baton Rouge, it's going to relieve some of the traffic and move it on the bridge faster, so it'll make things better."
Better, when it comes to traffic, is what drivers have been waiting to hear for years.
"We have to get started, we're thirty years too late to even get started."