BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A plan to create an alternative to the Washington Street exit received largely positive reviews during a public meeting Wednesday evening.
Under DOTD's proposal, a new ramp would be added on the left-hand side of I-110 South just north of I-10, ending on Terrace Avenue.
As a result, those traveling south on the interstate and hoping to end up in the same neighborhood would no longer have to cut across several lanes of I-10 traffic from the bridge to exit onto Washington Street.
"The drivers won't have to slow down to anticipate that. While we want them to be slow, and cautious, and careful, we also want them to be consistent," said Dr. Shawn Wilson, the head of DOTD.
"Can you imagine teaching two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old how to drive and merge on the Washington Street exit? It was tough," said Zachary resident Eddie Guidry.
Guidry made the trek down I-110 for six years, taking his children to McKinley High School. Each time, he would have to merge through traffic to get to the Washington Street exit near the school.
"I taught them to drive, and that was the obstacle, and that was horrific," Guidry said.
Because the state already owns the land where the new ramp would be built, no homes or private property would be impacted by the roadway. That was a relief for many residents.
Still, the construction process does come with some pitfalls. For example, DOTD leaders say the nearby football field in Expressway Park, which rests between the north and south lanes of I-10, may be used as a staging ground for supplies and materials during construction.
Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker said she believes that could mean no season for the field's home team.
"South Baton Rouge Rams are champions for BREC. That would not be good at all for the community. So we're trying to work creatively with DOTD and BREC," Wicker said.
The head of DOTD said, unfortunately, all projects come with some inconvenience.
"It's never our intent interrupt a little league football field, but at the same time we have thousands and thousands of people that are congested in this section, not just during football season but all year," Wilson said.
Wicker said she is looking for alternatives for the football team. Otherwise, however, she said she is excited by the project.
"Lives will be saved, car crashes will be decreased, and the community will be beautified as a result of it. I think it becomes a win-win situation for everyone," Wicker said.
DOTD will begin accepting bids for the project around this time next fall. DOTD leaders said to expect construction to begin around Christmas time or perhaps even later than that.
As for the costs, they will not be finalized until after the bidding process is complete. However, Wilson said the state has already set aside money for the project.