EMS, business owner react to Essen Lane expansion

EMS, business owner react to Essen Lane expansion
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There will be a groundbreaking at noon Thursday for the construction near the interstate, which will lead to the eventual widening of Essen between Perkins and l-10.

Construction will begin around the United Plaza to Ward's Creek Bridge. That is expected to last six months before the widening continues towards Perkins.

Rapid Lube Oil Change Service has been a fixture on Essen Lane for 25 years. The family-owned business has watched the area grow and develop around them. While owner Jerry Hix says the location is good, there is one big problem.

"Right now it's very tough. The later in the afternoon it gets, you can see it pretty much shuts our business down," said Hix.

The "it" Hix is talking about the traffic which overwhelms the road nearly every evening.

To help ease the congestion, the city and DOTD are expanding the one mile stretch of Essen Lane between Perkins Road and I-10 from five to six lanes. Road cones are already shifting drivers to other lanes for the first phase of construction, which will add additional turning lanes for the interstate and widen the Ward's Creek Bridge.

The long anticipated project is expected to last a year and a half, but Hix worries the strain of construction will detour customers away from his garage.

"Yeah, it'll benefit us, but it's always that deal, can your business survive?" said Hix.

Also bracing for the construction is the medical staff that will work just blocks away.

"The situation on Essen Lane would affected us as far as transporting patients to the hospital, responding and leaving from the hospital," said EMS Spokesman Mike Chutz.

EMS Ambulance Service is accustomed to navigating around the city's many construction sites. While the Essen expansion will take place around one of the busiest hospitals in Baton Rouge, Chutz says they are prepared for the extra traffic complications that are sure to come with construction.

"We're all watching the process as it begins to unfold. We're going to make adjustments if we have to. All the crew members will know about it. It's a daily briefing we send out every day, reminding medics there is road construction," said Chutz.

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