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Officials looking at how I-10 project will affect ferries

1 year 4 months 3 days ago Thursday, January 26 2023 Jan 26, 2023 January 26, 2023 8:28 AM January 26, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

PLAQUEMINE - Some major changes could come to the Plaquemine ferry service within the coming months with major construction hitting I-10.

“If there’s road construction somewhere, or there’s some kind of congestion causing events such as a crash or a closure, then we’ll see more people using the ferries," said DOTD official Rodney Mallett.

The ferry, a staple across the West and East Baton Rouge, is used to dealing with higher volumes when there are disruptions in normal traffic flow. As work begins on the much-needed Interstate widening project, there is speculation about the effects it could have on the ferry services themselves. 

“What’s gonna happen sometime in 2024, when we go to two lanes in each direction and one lane at the flyover, at the merge, we know and we anticipate to see additional congestion," Mallett said. "We’re working on different ways to mitigate that."

One of the ways DOTD is looking to do that is by better utilizing the ferries already present in Baton Rouge. Mallet says there are certain things they’re now looking into to see how feasible the idea is.

“With all that goes into play, we can't make a guess at what we’re going to see on the ferries… that’s one of the many things we’ll take under consideration when we get that point. We have to see if it's cost worthy; it costs three to $5 million a year to run the ferries.”

A costly and somewhat outdated system isn't the only issue DOTD faces when talking about increasing the use of the Plaquemine ferry service. 

“With the ferry, you have to staff people that are certified in the US Coast Guard, so we have staffing issues as well,” Mallett said.

The positions are hard to fill and the demand is lacking. The issues are staffing problems for the normal ferry service as well, another problem that needs to be addressed before the use of the service can be increased. 

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