MovEBR program aims to make Airline Highway better, safer

Updated: Nov. 6, 2020 at 5:35 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Some new adjustments are coming to Airline Highway in the future which could help make that drive to work a little easier.

As most drivers in Baton Rouge know, Airline Highway is a major corridor for East Baton Rouge Parish, and the MovEBR program is hoping this new project will not only make the highway better, but also safer.

The project will be done in phases and will take place from the north end of Airline Highway all the way to the southern end. So far, MovEBR has $48 million set aside for the work, but officials believe the total amount will come to $100 million for the entire project. MovEBR is hoping to get federal money from FEMA since Airline Highway is a main evacuation route in the state.

“Airline Highway is not a city-parish highway; it is a state route, and we have to work with the DOTD, which we have, and we work very closely on the project, but they dictate on what they have seen needs to be done for this particular project,” said Fred Raiford, transportation and drainage director for the city-parish.

Other ideas are in the mix to not only add lanes to the highway, but to also add bicycle lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians.

Click here and here for more detailed documents about the project.

Traffic, as everyone knows, is an issue in the capital area, but the possibility of adding new lanes to Airline Hwy could help with the daily drive time, but also evacuations for those big storms.

“To not only help day to day traffic, but just as important to handle emergency events that come up like we’ve had this year, four…five hurricanes, you know, people have had to move to and from various places…having good infrastructure definitely enhances that capability,” says Fred Raiford who is the Transportation and Drainage Director of East Baton Rouge Parish.

The project will focus on improving the northern and southern parts of Airline Hwy. Move EBR is considering adding sidewalks and bicycle lanes to keep folks safe. The project will take a few years and probably done in multiple phases.

“What we don’t want to do is create more traffic ingestion because of all of the construction which you know you have many cars that travel this road day after day. It’s also adjoining in Ascension Parish which a lot of people come into Baton Rouge to and form to go to work,” adds Raiford.

Helping with the traffic flow is a plus for those driving to work, but also for local businesses like Yolanda Perrilloux’s smokehouse, Pimanyoli’s, she is looking forward to some of the changes to help with the busy lunch hour.

“If it’s flowing, it will be easier for people to access it, to get on and off, and I think it would be good for businesses, but you know the pain and how long it would take to actually, you know, complete the project,” says Perrilloux. Folks will probably experience lane closures once the project starts, but in the long run officials believe the project will benefit the community.

Move EBR will present the project to the EBR Metro Council eventually to get their approval, and they will reach out to the community to see what residents would like to see.

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