BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State leaders have unveiled a plan to reduce congestion near the Washington Street exit on I-10.
The plan would create a new exit ramp on the left of I-110 South near Washington Street, helping to alleviate one of the two central reasons for the backlog.
Near the Washington Street exit, the interstate shrinks from two lanes to one, forcing mergers. Also, drivers coming south on I-110 wanting to exit on Washington Street have to cross the traffic from the bridge, causing more backups.
The new exit hopes to address that second issue. It would end the need to cut across the path of cars coming from the bridge in order to exit the roadway. Those driving south would instead exit earlier, passing underneath the interstate and arriving on nearby Terrace Avenue.
"That should prevent the double merge – folks merging right and left at the same time - in a very short tight distance that is heavily congested," said Shawn Wilson, secretary of DOTD.
Because the state already owns the land, no private property would be put in jeopardy.
Work on the design and the environmental impact study are currently underway. Construction will not likely begin until late 2017 or early 2018.
Overall, the project will cost just between $20 million and $25 million.
Recently, the state secured a $60 million grant from the federal government for I-10 improvements in Lafayette. That extra federal money freed up money for this new exit ramp.
"We are growing, we are doing a bunch of things right in Louisiana, but because of economic issues, we need help in providing quality of life issues and helping goods get to market around the country," said U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana.
Local leaders called the announced project a major victory.
"My people are happy today and so am I," said state Sen. Yvonne Colomb, D-Baton Rouge.
The fate of the current Washington Street exit is still up in the air. Plans for widening the interstate in the Baton Rouge area are not finalized, but doing so could mean changes to the Washington Street exit off of I-10.