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New and improved College Dr. on the horizon for safer, smoother travels; project to cost $50M

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BATON ROUGE - MOVEBR has a project design in the works to help ease traffic concerns on College Drive.

The corridor enhancement plan is in the early development stages, but locals are beyond ready for those improvements.

Bumper to bumper traffic, dangerous conditions, and frustration are just a few things that drivers experience making their way down College Drive. MOVEBR plans to widen the road, adding sidewalks, bike paths, and easy access for public transportation.

The roadwork is intended to make transportation safe and smooth in the 3,900 ft. stretch from Perkins Road to I-10.

Jared Kendall is just one of many bikers in the capital area. He says for the last two months he has ridden his bike around Baton Rouge and areas equipped with bike paths are a dream, but College Drive is the most terrifying road he takes.

"I would love if they could actually pull that off. The places where we have actual, proper bike lanes are amazing. You feel so good and so safe when you're in them. It makes being on the bike just fun," Kendall said.

But that's not the only thing scaring those who take this route on their commute each day. Some drivers say the traffic congestion makes the path from Perkins Road to the interstate miserable.

"Around midday, driving through College, it takes about 30 minutes just to get all the way down, so it would be nice to have more lanes," Charley Guzzardo said.

Officials estimate the cost of the project to ring in at $50 million. That hefty price includes an additional northbound lane, improvements to infrastructure, and newly modified traffic signals to increase speeds and move traffic at a more efficient pace.

MOVEBR plans to request additional funds from the state, but East Baton Rouge transportation director Fred Raiford says before construction begins in 2021, the public will have a say.

"We will have meetings with the public before things get underway and I think that's important because they're paying for it," Raiford said.

The state plans to add to the design once the first phase is complete. Those additions include a flyover exit ramp from I-10 West to College Drive to reduce congestion at the interstate.

"The biggest problem we have today, really, is I-10, the ramps and how they tie in, either eastbound or westbound, create some of that congestion that you have every day," Raiford said.

Congestion that is making some feel unsafe.

"You get close to Perkins, kind of over by Benny's actually we cut through Benny's car lot, and from that point forward it's terrifying," Kendall said.

In addition to bikers, 30-35,000 cars make their way down that stretch every day. Raiford says while they cannot fix the volume in the area, they are doing what they can to make things move smoothly and safely.

The main objective of this first phase is to provide access management, signalization, and capacity improvements along College Dr. MOVEBR says the project will also enhance pedestrian mobility as well as transit accommodations, making it easier for buses to make stops without adding to the congestion.

Raiford assures the community that they are doing what they can to avoid further inconveniencing drivers once construction begins at the end of 2021.

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