Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG --A sign warns motorists of two lane traffic ahead as Old Hammond Highway goes back down to two lanes just east of Boulevard de Province.

Baton Rouge recently scored more than $17 million in federal money, which will go toward widening and adding sidewalks to Old Hammond Highway as part of the city-parish’s Green Light Plan.

The plan combines local money from a dedicated sales tax with other sources to improve roads and beautify Baton Rouge. The downside is that planners and engineers must go through a lengthy process to be eligible for federal money, which means Old Hammond Highway construction won’t start until fiscal year 2018 or 2019.

Old Hammond Highway begins at the intersection of Jefferson Highway and Corporate Boulevard. The road extends to the northeast until it meets Florida Boulevard.

The parts of Old Hammond Highway that planners are looking to upgrade are two-lane undivided roadways.

The changes will come in two segments. The first, which has not yet gone through a necessary environmental assessment, will widen Old Hammond Highway to four lanes and add sidewalks between Boulevard de Province and Millerville Road.

The second part is further along. Planners already have completed the design phase and are ready to start construction once the federal money opens up in a few years. The project also will widen Old Hammond Highway to four lanes with sidewalks between Millerville Road and O’Neal Lane.

The $17.1 million in federal money will combine with more than $6 million local dedicated sales tax dollars to bring the project total to $23.4 million. The city-parish won the $17.1 million after submitting an application to the Surface Transportation Program, which gives federal money on the regional level for road projects.

“The approval of the allocation of more than $17 million in federal funds to address our traffic and infrastructure needs is a tremendous win for the residents of Baton Rouge,” said Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden in a news release.

Bryan Harmon, interim director of the Department of Public Works, said Baton Rouge officials have hunted for opportunities where other funding sources can supplement local money to complete Green Light projects at a faster pace. Completed Green Light Plan projects include expanding Brightside Lane from River Road to west of Nicholson Drive, and adding additional lanes on the Interstate 10 entrance and exit ramps at Essen Lane.