The public will have a chance to share ideas on how to improve the traffic flow on Interstate 10 from La. 415 to Essen Lane through a series of community meetings that will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3.

“We’re going to be looking at all of the projects needed in this region,” said Perry Franklin, a local consultant who works on transportation and planning issues. That includes a southern crossing over the Mississippi River. “The limiting factor to improving I-10 is the width of the (interstate) bridge,” Franklin said.

Each meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. They are Aug. 31 in the Baton Rouge River Center’s large exhibition hall at 275 S. River Road; Sept. 1 in the West Baton Rouge Community Center at 749 N. Jefferson Ave. in Port Allen; Sept. 3 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Ballroom at 4728 Constitution Ave. All of the meetings will go over the same information,

Franklin told the Downtown Development District commissioners Tuesday that the meeting will look at improving the traffic congestion on I-10. But he said the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development “clearly understands that this project alone will not improve vehicular flow in this community.”

The meetings are part of a $2 million review being conducted by the Louisiana DOTD. The first part was a survey done earlier this year that garnered nearly 14,000 comments from people and businesses representing 17 different states. “This is a project that not only impacts Baton Rouge and the region, but the Southeast region of the United States,” Franklin said.

Not only will the survey results be discussed at the meetings, but scientific studies of traffic and crash data on I-10 will also be reviewed. State officials are trying to address the issue of near-daily accidents on or near the I-10 bridge, which lead to traffic snarls all across the city. A second round of meetings will be held in the spring. The plan is to complete “Stage Zero” of the improvement study by summer 2016. The next stage would involve getting firm suggestions on how to improve traffic on the interstate.

State budget problems mean any sweeping proposals are likely years away.

Also at the DDD meeting, which was held in the River Center, Tina Rance, a spokeswoman for Commercial Properties Realty Trust, said the first residents should start moving in the 525 Lafayette apartment building in September. The building adjoins IBM’s downtown service center on the block surrounded by River Road, Main Street, Lafayette Street and North Street.

Rance said leasing for 525 Lafayette “has gone very well” and most of the two-bedroom apartments in the 85-unit development have been preleased.

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