DOTD to work around historic properties as I-10 widening project begins
BATON ROUGE- The state is trying to save historic properties from getting bulldozed ahead of construction on the massive I-10 widening project through Baton Rouge.
Drivers can expect extra lanes on I-10 in both directions from the west side to the 10/12 split to improve traffic flow, but the timeline on that project is unclear.
The billion-dollar widening project is in the works and on track as a contractor will be selected in the next few weeks.
"We've actually identified the consulting firm that's going to design the entire corridor from 415 [Lobdell] to Essen, and we are going to procure the contractor for this first phase, which will go from the [Mississippi River] bridge to the split," Dr. Shawn Wilson said, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
One hurdle has been securing property along the expanded route.
Historic properties are not being forgotten. DOTD says they are working to design around these areas or possibly even move them.
"We have actually worked with the historic trust to take some of those homes that are of a historic nature and relocate in available properties within this corridor away from this footprint," Wilson said.
Existing properties that are not owned by the state will likely have to be purchased. The state still needs to buy around 30 properties to make way for the wider I-10.
Before deals can be made, the environmental study must be complete. Wilson says that should wrap up by the end of the year.
The first major project on the to-do list is a flyover ramp on College Drive. Construction is already complete on the Washington Street exit ramp.
Money is lined up and ready for these projects to begin. Funding has been secured for the first $360 million in improvements.
The state is looking forward to the progress as over 100 thousand cars travel through the area each day, and that number is only growing.
"We want it to be a first-class piece of infrastructure," Wilson said.
State budget issues are not expected to have an impact as construction is expected to begin within the next year.
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