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State leaders choose contractors for massive I-10 widening project

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BATON ROUGE - Plans for extensive road work meant to improve traffic conditions along Louisiana's often-congested I-10 between La. Hwy. 415 in West Baton Rouge (WBR) Parish and the East Baton Rouge (EBR) Parish I0/12 split have been finalized and are expected to begin in 2021.

The six-year project will be helmed by a company called Kiewit/Boh, which is actually a partnership between two firms.

Federal bonds will support the lengthy project's completion, and the state intends to repay the money by using a portion of its annual allocation of federal aid.

The bonds will pave the way for the state to undertake such a major project in Baton Rouge despite a $14 billion backlog of road and bridge needs, and a state gas tax that has remained unchanged for the past 30 years.

"Since 2016 this administration has been bold in our efforts to prioritize and deliver value-added infrastructure solutions across the state of Louisiana," Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.

"The innovation, competence and courage by DOTD and its government and private sector partners to advance the widening of I-10 is a game-changer for this region and for interstate commerce," Edwards added.

"While not the only solution to regional challenges, it is critical to reducing congestion, fostering economic development and enhancing the qualify of life of those living and working in the vicinity of the project," he said.

Many would agree it's well past time for this part of the interstate to be updated. The Advocate notes that it was built in the 1960s and meant to serve as a route to about 80,000 cars and trucks per day.

Some sixty years later, the aged route is traversed by nearly 160,000 vehicles daily.

Plans to make improvements to the corridor were initially announced by Gov. Edwards in January of 2018 and were estimated to cost the state a total of $360 million.

Now, DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says $360 million is what the state is borrowing for the first stages of the work, but officials are anticipating the need for more funds in future years, after roughly half of the first debt is paid off.

The work will begin by addressing numerous projects that will affect the section of I-10 that's just west of Washington Street to Essen Lane.

During this phase, outdated portions of the interstate will be reconstructed and changes to the intersections at Washington Street, Dalrymple Drive, Perkins Road, Acadian Thruway and College Drive will be made. This phase will also include the replacement of the Narin Drive overpass.

The $52.3 million College Drive work, performed by Boh Bros Construction Co. will be a revamp of the westbound exit and will allow westbound traffic on I-10 to get off at College Drive without having to cross multiple lanes of traffic, which is especially risky during morning rush hour.

Wilson said Monday this work to the College Drive area is part of the initial phase that's expected to begin in 2021.

Also included in the initial phase outlined Monday is the construction of noise barriers, interstate lighting, guide signs, traffic signals and pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.

Roundabouts are in the works for Terrace Avenue and Braddock Street; the Washington Street interchange and Dalrymple Drive at East Lakeshore Drive.

The project is a significant undertaking, but is expected to vastly improve traffic conditions in both EBR and WBR Parish. 


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