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Contentious plan to narrow I-10 in BR delayed as state tries to address concerns about impending expansion project

1 year 4 months 2 weeks ago Monday, January 30 2023 Jan 30, 2023 January 30, 2023 2:34 PM January 30, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - After a year of intense pushback over a plan to reduce a stretch of I-10 to one lane in either direction during the I-10 expansion project, state officials say they're tweaking the proposal to add an extra westbound lane approaching the Mississippi River Bridge. The add-on will also mean extending the widening project by about a year.

The change comes nearly a year after state highway officials said they would cut both directions down to one lane between the bridge and the Washington Street exit. The Department of Transportation and Development now says it plans to expand the I-10 flyover at the 10/110 interchange to accommodate another westbound lane.

The original plan called for a single lane in either direction for the length of the flyover.

Even with another lane in the West Bound direction some still think the project is flawed. One of those people is an architect Coleman Brown. 

"One lane in and two lanes out, they think that makes it like it is now. But really, and truly, it's still going to be a royal mess," Brown told WBRZ. 

He also questions how DOTD would plan to build that extra lane. 

"Are they going to remove the ten-foot wall on the north side? Or if they go to the south side, how is that going to work with the Terrace exit? It might cause a lot more problems than it solves," Brown said. 

The switch-up is expected to cost $50 million and will delay year-long lane closures between the split 10/110 split and Acadian Thruway, originally slated for early 2024, by another year.

See the previous proposal here

The revision to the project is pending federal approval. 

Read the full announcement from DOTD below. 

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announces an update on the I-10 widening project in East Baton Rouge Parish. In order to mitigate traffic concerns regarding lane restrictions associated with the widening project, with the approval of the Federal Highway Administration, DOTD will construct an additional lane on the westbound flyover at the I-10/I-110 interchange.

Once approved, construction of this additional lane will take approximately one year to build and will cost an estimated $50 million. Lane restrictions along I-10, which were estimated to begin in early 2024, will be pushed back a year until the lane is fully constructed. The lane restrictions were instituted into the project in an effort to save up to 4 years of construction and more than $50 million in costs. This mitigation measure of adding a westbound lane on the flyover has been about a year in the making as engineers worked to determine feasibility, constructability and cost benefits.

“DOTD has been working diligently to determine the most feasible options to reduce traffic congestion during the construction of the widening project. With the $50 million saved, which derived from the contractor proposal to extend the project to Acadian Thruway with the lane restrictions, we will be able to provide more travel lanes over the westbound flyover,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “While this project will be extended by a year, we will continue to make improvements to other highways in the region as mitigation that would not have been possible. Let’s not lose focus on the end goal, which is to make these much-needed enhancements to the I-10 corridor. When this project is completed, it will be transformative for the region and the state.”

Once completed, there will be four lanes in each direction from the I-10/I-110 split to Acadian Thruway. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023 and is estimated to be completed in 2028, weather permitting.

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