‘Where are we supposed to go:’ Concerns grow over future hurricane evacuation plans during I-10 construction

When they finally start to widen the interstate, one local group is worried people might get trapped.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 5:37 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When they finally start to widen the interstate, one local group is worried that people might get trapped.

It happens every time Louisiana sees a hurricane: people evacuate through Baton Rouge and clog up I-10.

“We need to know where are we supposed to go,” said Pennie May Landry, a member of the grassroots initiative called East Baton Rouge Infrastructure Solutions (EBRIS).

That concern has been amplified by some with all the construction happening on the interstate, especially in the coming years during the massive I-10 widening project.

“We are attempting to inform and engage the citizens of this parish and surrounding parishes about what is getting ready to happen, starting in 2023,” said Landry.

Landry’s group is concerned about possible hurricane or military evacuations on I-10 during this roadwork. They want DOTD officials to provide more details on those plans.

“In the event of any environmental condition, flooding, hurricanes, whatever,” said Landry.

“We’re clearing the lanes when possible, but right now, there’s no restrictions,” said Rodney Mallett, communications director for DOTD.

Mallet says there won’t be any lane reductions on the interstate until 2024.

So potential evacuations for the next few years won’t be impacted.

“That’s going to be our one hurricane season. Then after that, we’re going to be back to three lanes. Then once this project is finished, we’re going to be four lanes in each direction, and our curve and merge here at the I-10 / 110 will be fixed,” said Mallett.

If your family needs to evacuate because of a storm, Mallett says there are plenty of alternate routes around Baton Rouge. Or you could just go north or east, instead of Texas.

“And if you look anywhere, every year, even if it’s not Louisiana, if it’s Texas, if it’s Florida, Alabama. If you have a mass evacuation, you’re going to have a lot of traffic,” said Mallett.

DOTD officials are urging you to plan before hurricane season, and possibly take a different route other than I-10 if evacuating.

The I-10 widening project is expected to be completed by sometime in 2027.

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