BTR airport wants to detour busy Plank Road

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BATON ROUGE - There's part of Plank Road that's just a few hundred feet from the end of an airport runway and the Baton Rouge airport says it's just not safe. The company wants to detour the busy road.

Ralph Hennessy, interim director for the Baton Rouge airport, says part of Plank Road is in what FAA calls the “runway protection zone.”

“We want to prevent an aircraft from ending up on Plank Road. There was an incident back in the 70’s where that actually did happen, fortunately, nobody was hurt,” he said.

There’s a safety measure already in place. It's a mound of material, called an “EMAS” at the end of the runway that's designed to stop an aircraft should an accident happen.

Hennesey says it's only a short-term solution, and the material has to be replaced every decade and costs about 10 million dollars. Relocating the road, the long-term solution would cost 25-40 million depending on the design.

“The idea is to relocate the road one time and that will take care of the safety issue, the design standards with the FAA and still provide access along the north/south corridor,” he says.

There’s no set design for the new road layout, so the airport and local leaders want to get feedback from the community, including Chauna Banks, Councilwoman for District two.

“We want to make sure that the community that will be affected will know about it, and try to minimize whatever possibilities that would decrease the quality of life during this process,” she said.

The project is in its early phases, and it will take the rest of 2017 to study the impact of traffic, noise, and pollution, and another 2-3 years for design and construction.

The money for the project comes from fees that fliers pay when they buy an airplane ticket, and by airplane fuel taxes.

If it goes according to plan-- it will be finished by 2021.

To learn more about the airport's plan, you can attend a community meeting tomorrow night from 6 to 7:30 at Saintsville Church, 8930 Plank Road.


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