The Capitol Access Road is closed at the bridge near the Governor’s Mansion due to road construction related to a State Capitol security upgrade.
The road won’t reopen until Jan. 5.
The shutdown means more traffic headaches for downtown workers as well as residents of Spanish Town as they navigate an ever-changing network of road closures. The historic neighborhood in the shadows of the Capitol is bracing for more cars on its narrow streets.
“It’s going to have a huge impact on the neighborhood,” civic association official Mary Jane Marcantel said.
Already bad, traffic along the one-lane, one-way Spanish Town Road will be the most direct way for hundreds of state employees to reach Interstate 110 when they leave work in the evenings.
“Spanish Town (Road) right now is a nightmare,” said Darryl Gissel, a longtime Spanish Town resident who owns a real estate company and property in the neighborhood.
“It’s going to funnel more people onto other neighborhood streets,” Gissel said. “They don’t think about that. Our little streets just can’t take that kind of traffic.”
Gissel said the least the state could do is to stagger work hours of government employees so all the traffic won’t hit at once.
The project shuts off a route, which runs from the Governor’s Mansion to Third Street, that hundreds of state employees use as they travel to work in buildings on the north and west sides of the Capitol.
The $1.39 million project involves changing the winding roads on either side of the Arsenal Park from one-way to two-way streets with roundabouts at either end of the park. Barber Brothers Contracting Co. won the bid.
The idea is to keep traffic further away from the Capitol. Traffic already has been blocked from driving around the Arsenal Park and Capitol visitors can no longer park on front or back parking lots.
Already, ongoing sewer work along River Road is limiting downtown traffic there and a street closure continues at the IBM building on Lafayette Street.
“How do people get out of the Capitol Complex with all the work going on?” Gissel asked.
A member of the governor’s Division of Administration met Monday with Spanish Town representatives “to address concerns,” spokesman Gregory Dupuis said.
The traffic realignment is one of the last phases of a Capitol security upgrade that has already cost taxpayers $4.76 million.
The road project was postponed last year over concerns it would not be completed by the start of the 2015 legislative session. This time, the completion is near the Jan. 11 date of inauguration activities as a new governor is sworn into office — usually at the State Capitol.
Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage from the State Capitol, follow Louisiana politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.