Road work project on Brightside causing headache for drivers, business owners

Road construction at intersection of Lee, Brightside causing headache for drivers, business owners

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The city-parish of East Baton Rouge has invested more than $1 billion for its MovEBR project. The funds will be used for transportation and infrastructure upgrades, along with synchronizing traffic lights.

However, one project that started in 2018 isn’t necessarily on that list, but is still giving businesses and drivers headaches.

Construction at Brightside and Lee drives
Construction at Brightside and Lee drives (Source: WAFB)
Construction at Brightside and Lee drives
Construction at Brightside and Lee drives (Source: WAFB)

DOTD says it’s a $10 million project to widen the intersection at Lee and Brightside, stretching about half a mile. The roadwork has been delayed and is blocking people from getting into businesses inside a shopping center near the intersection. However, the end of the work may finally be near.

Work doesn’t stop at the American Market Food Store at Lee and Brightside, where everyday, they make their signature po-boys.

But there seems to be no end to the work going on outside. Construction to widen the entire intersection has been ongoing since the summer of 2018.

Store employees say it’s hurting business.

“Frustrating sometimes. It’s just hard. The dust, the traffic when I get here, when I get out, and inconvenient,” said Vy Tran, a cashier at the store.

Tran says most of the entrances to the shopping center are blocked off right now, giving customers no where to turn.

“So it’s inconvenient for them to get in, get out, and sometimes they don’t want to stop by, just go somewhere else,” said Tran.

The construction also backs up traffic big time, especially during rush hour.

“It’s not making traffic any better. They closed this whole intersection down in October. That was a pain. I mean, I had to go all the way around through Tigerland every time I had to go home, or had to take River Road,” said John Tooraen, who lives nearby the construction work.

Rodney Mallet with DOTD says the goal is to improve the intersection, but crews have run into delays. They found a sewer line that had to be relocated, which halted work for a while, and of course, there have been weather issues.

“We’re depending on weather, and we’ve had so much rain lately that while the utilities have set us back from time to time during this project and other projects, it’s the weather that causes a large part in these delays,” said Mallet.

“I’m ready [for work to be finished], but I understand the frustration,” said Keith Mayeux, who also lives nearby.

As for the people who live near and work alongside the major project on Lee and Brightside, they’re hopeful for a happy ending of sorts.

"It'll probably be better for the flow of traffic around here and at least it will be new roads for a little bit, before they start turning like every other road here," said Tooraen.

“As long as in June it’s fine, before the football season, especially football season,” said Tran.

"The drainage is going to be better, the signals are going to be better, and so it's something that needed to be done," said Mallet.

While DOTD has not given an exact date for when the construction will be complete, they’re estimating sometime in late spring.

To see if streets in your neighborhood are part of the MovEBR project, click here.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.