Traffic nightmare over Intracoastal Canal on LA-1 to be resolved with new and improved bridge
WEST BATON ROUGE - Traffic is a nightmare traveling over the Intracoastal Canal Bridge on LA-1 most days in West Baton Rouge, but not for long.
With only two lanes in either direction and no shoulders to use in the event of an emergency, standstill traffic can be miles long over the bridge, especially during rush hour.
Drivers are frustrated with the current situation, but officials say this inevitable traffic jam won't be the case for much longer.
West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley "Pee Wee" Berthelot says a new and improved bridge is in the works.
The new bridge will include three 12-foot-long lanes traveling both north and southbound, in addition to ten-foot shoulders on both sides.
The expansion will more than double the size and traffic capacity of the existing bridge.
The project will be completed in three phases and cost around $140 million.
"It's probably 60 years old now and it has probably lived its life expectancy. We gotta keep patching it up, put a bandaid on it here and there to keep it rolling," Berthelot said.
After spending years on patchwork and repairs, the parish is ready for a long-term solution.
The first phase of constructing the new bridge will include building one section bridge, which will temporarily be divided into a four-lane highway.
In the second phase, the current structure will be torn down and the final phase consists of constructing the other half of the bridge.
Though before construction can begin, a contract will go for bidding on March 10.
Until then, the state is working to relocate railroad tracks that are currently in the way of those plans.
This project is in the design phase, but Berthelot says he expects these improvements to be completed by the end of 2021.
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