Viewpoint: October 27, 2010

Baton Rouge has a number of issues to tackle as a growing community: crime, education and an economy that has recently shown signs of struggling. However, there's one other issue that continues to rear its ugly head on just about a daily basis…traffic.

We're all aware of the multi-year debate about a proposed loop. However, since we're not traffic engineers or urban planners, we won't pick sides in that battle. But, we do ask this question: If not a loop, then what?

The numbers are sobering. A recent Reader's Digest survey of truck drivers, traffic reporters and other experts deemed I-55 in Louisiana the worst road in America, with I-12 near Baton Rouge second worst. In a nation of over 300 million people with access to nearly 50,000 miles of interstate, the two worst roads, according to this survey, are in our backyard.

When you think about the constant shutdowns recently on our interstates, that survey may not seem like much of a surprise. In fact, the DOTD Traffic Management Center says from June through August of this year, incidents resulting in lane blockages are up 10 percent from the same period just a year ago. Some motorists feel the ongoing expansion of I-10 will already be outdated by the time it's completed.

How many more meetings can we have about our roads without any concrete plans or results? If Baton Rouge is going to be America's next great city, we have to answer the tough question: If not a loop, then what?