DOTD hosts meetings to inform residents about I-10 construction

(WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is hosting two informal open house meetings this month to inform residents about the ongoing construction on I-10 between Highland Road in Baton Rouge and LA 73 in Ascension Parish.

Parts of the traffic problems plaguing the city are on their way to being addressed with construction crews already working to widen parts of I-10 beginning at Highland stretching into Ascension Parish.

The four-lane portion of roadway will be increased to six lanes, creating more room for the more than 95,000 drivers who use the highway each day. DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson says it's desperately needed.

"Imagine opening that up to not just have two lanes, but to have three lanes, so you will increase capacity tremendously once that's done," said Wilson.

"All it's going to do is push the parking lot further down the road," said Bill Gibson.

Gibson travels the stretch every day and says the project is long overdue. He believes while ambitious, it needs to stretch farther to fix more headaches in the capital area. "Wrecks and traffic jams and that's pretty much the size of it," said Gibson. "You really need to widen the interstate all the way to New Orleans."

Wilson took several questions about the project Monday, letting drivers know how they will be impacted. He says the long-term benefits of the plan will far outweigh the brief inconvenience.

The stretch of interstate between Highland and LA 73 is one of the busiest in the state, connecting Baton Rouge to New Orleans. The goal is that the project will do wonders for peoples' daily commute. "You're going to save anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes with the completed project," said Wilson.

Three bridges along the way will also be reworked, including the Bluff Road bridge at LA 928, which will be raised. The Highland overpass will be converted from two bridges to one massive overpass with three lanes in each direction. Wilson projects the work will be wrapped up in two years, with each part tackled in phases.

"I think you'll see tremendous improvements," he added.

Gibson says he's hopeful, but will believe the benefits when he sees them. "Traffic on the interstate has been horrendous and it hasn't stopped,'' Gibson said.

DOTD leaders though are taking those concerns head on, saying they are confident drivers will be happy with the end result. "The overall goal really is to provide additional capacity as well as preserve the existing system that we have," said Wilson.

The public will have another opportunity to visit with DOTD leaders on Thursday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Dutchtown High School.

Construction started in February and is expected to be completed in winter 2020.

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