I-10 construction may mean traffic trouble in 2013

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some welcome news for those of you who drive Interstate 10, construction is just about finished. Considering traffic may pick up early next year - with the several events in New Orleans, which could be good news. But if things are not complete, some say it could lead to longer traffic troubles.

I-10 can be crawling with traffic, bumper-to-bumper or flowing steadily. For some navigating the stretch, it can be a long, drawn out ordeal.

"If you're from this area, you know how to go around traffic without getting stuck in it," said Melvin Thomas, who travels around the Baton Rouge area every day. "Take the interstate and you're going to get stuck in traffic."

All the construction, which in some cases has been going on since 2009, is just one reason Thomas found other ways to move around.

"It's taking a long time to really get it done."

There are a number of people who echo Thomas' thoughts, but a clear drive could be ahead.

"I-10 between 10/12 split and Seigen Lane is scheduled to be open to traffic hopefully by the end of this year," said Bill Grass, spokesman for the Geaux Wider Project.

That means drivers will soon have three lanes along this stretch to travel.

However, Bill Grass says the section from Seigen Lane to Highland Road will not be done until the spring of 2013.

That could potentially mean more backups when big events like the Sugar Bowl, the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras come to New Orleans. All three events are happening just before the spring.

The Baton Rouge Lodging Association says once New Orleans fills up, people will likely look for rooms in Baton Rouge. That could add even more cars to an already congested set of roadway. But the project spokesman says things will flow smoothly.

"Anytime special events like LSU football games or for Super Bowl, that would be the exception. There won't be construction impacts that would adversely affect traffic flow," said Grass.

The solution if there is an increase on the roads, Grass says two lanes, in each direction, will stay open to move traffic, which should decrease delays.

Officials say the I-10 project is on schedule. The first section of roadway that is scheduled to open next month will wrap six months earlier than originally expected.

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