Viewpoint: April 28, 2010

In August 2007, the first maps were unveiled showing a proposed loop around Baton Rouge, designed to help alleviate traffic congestion on I-10 and I-12. Nearly 3 years and many costly studies later, the loop project seems to be running on fumes.

So why is fixing our traffic problems so important? Do a quick online search and you'll find a number of surveys ranking Baton Rouge traffic and roads among the worst in the country.

One study recently ranked the commute on I-10 13th worst, falling just behind Houston and just ahead of Boston. In other words, our commute ranks up there with cities 6 to 7 times our size. Another study estimates our motorists spend an extra $1,000 a year because of traffic and poorly-maintained roads.

We understand the loop is a complex and emotional issue. Some homeowners would be displaced. Others would have to get used to a major highway being nearby. Years of construction would certainly lead to inconveniences.

But, we would also like to remind elected officials that while the opposition is often loud, a 2009 survey showed more than 80% support for a loop in the 5-parish region.

One thing is clear. Now is the time for some type of action. We don't need years more of studies. Whether it be a loop or some other alternative, we cannot afford to hold back the growth of the capital region any longer with our subpart roads.