Parish officials trying to come up with traffic solutions

Parish officials trying to come up with traffic solutions

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Traffic around Baton Rouge happens at any given time. Thursday, officials from surrounding parishes were at the table, yet again, to discuss the problems and possible solutions at a forum on the issue.

"Addressing congestion on I-10 from the Mississippi River Bridge to the split," said Dennis Decker with DOTD. Decker was the first speaker at the forum sponsored by Leaders with Vision.

The widening project is one the state is working on as it tries to solve several transportation needs over the next 30 years. The plan they are in the process of developing will also examine how traffic will impact the economic health of the region.

"We need another connector across the Intercoastal Canal," said Riley "Pee Wee" Berthelot, the parish president in West Baton Rouge. He is concerned about the backups that are in and around Port Allen. He feels there's one way to relieve the pressure there. "We need to get together as a legislative group, as parish presidents and we need to focus on one project. In my opinion, that would be the bridge across the Mississippi River."

That project is estimated to cost $800 million dollars.

Funding these projects is another issue. That's one reason that some are looking at toll roads.

For example, the Baton Rouge BUMP is a project to widen Airline Highway from Interstate 12 to 190 and divert drivers to the Old Mississippi River Bridge. Drivers would be able to coast at 70 miles per hour down the non-stop toll road, sort of a half loop.

However, the idea of the Baton Rouge Loop is not dead.

"We're waiting for some federal approvals and permitting," said Mike Bruce, a transportation consultant for East Baton Rouge Parish. "There's initiatives going on to entice public and private partnerships to build some of the loop, such as the north bypass. That is going on as we sit here today."

Without money, which they say would have to come from the federal level, these plans are nothing more than ideas. By all accounts, things won't last without a long-term fix.

"Our roads are less safe. They're in bad condition and as the population grows, we're not able to increase to the capacity we need."

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