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DOTD planning to add HOV lanes to I-12 in coming years

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BATON ROUGE - In a little less than a decade from now, Baton Rouge may no longer be infamous for rush-hour traffic congestion. 

That's the vision at DOTD headquarters, where officials are moving through plan after plan to reduce congestion on major roadways such as I-10 and I-12. A new bridge over the Mississippi River, a widened I-10 and now high occupancy vehicle lanes are being added to the ever-growing list of improvements. 

"You also think about major construction that’s going to be happening on I-10, we know that we’re going to be having a choke point and this is just one of the many measures trying to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled on our highways," DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said. 

The HOV lanes will use the inner shoulders on I-12 in both directions as additional lane during certain high-traffic hours of the day. With a white double-striped line as a barrier, the HOV lanes will stretch from the Drusilla overpass on I-12, to the Walker South Road exit.

It's an effort to relieve rush-hour delays, with an environmentally friendly approach of encouraging drivers to carpool to and from their destination.

"It just absolutely makes sense. It’s cheaper for families to carpool, it’s safer in terms of having fewer vehicles on the roads and from a climate change perspective we’re going to be reducing emissions even greater if we can reduce the amount of people on the roads," Wilson said.

To dissuade drivers from abusing the system, technology such as heat-sensing cameras will be placed along the lanes. Wilson added, he's hoping DOTD can trust drivers to use the "honor system." 

"Seriously, though, we want to trust people. We will write tickets if you violate those procedures. With the cameras we will be able to verify that. This is a free service, and if we abuse it, then it does no good. So, we’re going to trust that our citizens are going to do the right thing," Wilson said. 

The project is currently in the process of being designed. Once construction begins, one of the first steps will be re-paving the future lanes. 

The entire project is estimated to take up to 6 1/2 years to be completed.

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