Barricades going up at infamous Baton Rouge overpass amid efforts to drive away vagrants
BATON ROUGE - This week, crews with DOTD are building a barricade beneath an I-10 overpass well-known for drugs and its omnipresent panhandlers.
WBRZ was at the overpass on Siegen Lane as the state workers put up metal gates blocking off the median beneath the interstate, a space regularly occupied by groups of homeless people.
Last month, the state vowed to take action following years of complaints from drivers and residents in the area. The plan is to make the space between the concrete barriers on Siegen Lane totally inaccessible.
"Out of an abundance of caution and for safety measures, we're going to put a metal grate over the top," said Rodney Mallett, spokesperson for DOTD. "The pedestrian traffic... that's the main reason [for the grate] because it's a safety concern."
Earlier this year, volunteers with Keep Tiger Town Beautiful discovered a stash of pharmaceuticals beneath the overpass while cleaning up the area. They've also reported regularly finding piles of needles at the underpass.
"It is the Siegen Hell hole. And we call it that because that's where the addicts go underneath the bridge right there in between those two walls," Jennifer Richardson, who founded the anti-litter group.
Thursday, Richardson was all smiles as she watched DOTD workers continue constructing the barrier.
"We've been so concerned for the safety of the people that go back there because it is a cesspool of the most toxic things you can think of back there," Richardson said.
According to DOTD, the state spent around $25,000 on the barricade and it will be finished in two weeks.