Baton Rouge residents will have a final chance to weigh in Jan. 28 on a Pecue Lane and Interstate 10 interchange that is scheduled to start construction in May 2017.
Plans for the interchange have become high-profile over the past several weeks, as project managers revealed they need $36 million to complete it and some lawmakers have requested state funding. The project is moving forward rapidly because engineers will have to redo a decade’s worth of planning for it unless construction starts by spring 2017.
The final public hearing is one of many boxes that must be checked off before construction begins. Planners will unveil the proposed design for the interchange and the results of an environmental impact study.
The preferred design for the junction is a diverging diamond, in which traffic is rerouted to the opposite side of the roadway for a brief period of time. It gives drivers the ability to freely take left turns without crossing opposing traffic.
The diverging diamond interchange would be the first of its kind in Louisiana. It received mixed reviews from members of the public when they perused three proposed design options at meetings a year ago.
Jonathan Charbonnet, the Green Light Plan program manager, said at a December meeting that the diverging diamond was among the least expensive and least invasive options. People who live in the nearby neighborhoods had worried at last year’s meetings that an interchange would worsen traffic, add noise and come too close to their property lines.
Charbonnet said he expects three properties will need to be relocated to make room for the addition to the interstate.
Members of the public will again be able to give their opinions on the design at the meeting later this month. The public comment period is set to end in mid-February.
After the final public comment period ends, planners will move forward with securing permits, right-of-ways and buying land.
Around $20 million in local, state and federal money has been set aside to build the interchange. State Rep. Darrell Ourso, R-Baton Rouge, has already sent a letter to incoming Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne requesting the additional $36 million from the Legislature’s capital outlay bill.
Dardenne has said it’s too early to determine whether the project could secure the funding, but other capital-area lawmakers have pledged to push for it.
The open-house style meeting is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Woman’s Hospital Conference Center. Those unable to attend the meeting can send written comments that are postmarked within 10 days after the meeting.
Written comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to:
CSRS Program Management
Attn: Brad Ponder, P.E.
6767 Perkins Road, Suite 200
Baton Rouge, LA 70808