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I-10 widening project could affect emergency response times; EMS working on a plan with DOTD

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BATON ROUGE - I-10 West was backed up all morning Tuesday after two trucks collided on the Mississippi River Bridge, pinching traffic down to one lane. 

Traffic was delayed as far as Bluebonnet Boulevard. Frustrated drivers sat on the interstate for hours, while emergency response teams worked to clear the accident from the travel lanes. 

When the I-10 widening project begins and reduces traffic down to one lane in each direction, drivers could see a similar delay to the one on Tuesday. The possibility of a traffic nightmare is something emergency responders are working to avoid.

“It’s going to be an interesting situation, it’s going to be difficult to deal with, so we have to be ready," Baton Rouge paramedic Mike Chustz said.

The Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and Baton Rouge EMS are working together to come up with a plan for emergencies along the heavily congested stretch of I-10.

“Some of the things we’re looking at is having some first response strike teams stationed on or near the interstate. That would be their sole job is to respond to incidents on the interstate," Chustz said.

Other alternatives they're considering include the use of sprint vehicles to get through tight spaces.

"A sprint vehicle is an EMS vehicle that carries the same type of equipment, but it’s not an actual ambulance it’s like a pick up truck or an SUV," Chustz said.

While nothing is set in stone yet, Chustz says more meetings are planned. 

I think we’re going to make a lot of decisions day to day. Some of them may be in place for a while. Every time something changes with the construction, we’re probably going to change and adapt to it as well."

Major lane restrictions for the I-10 widening project will begin in January 2024.

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