The recent “Ask the Advocate: A modest proposal for I-10 snarls,” was answered with a very brief and largely “nothing we can do” response. With all due respect to Lauren Lee, public information officer for the state DOTD, and the DOTD, the response did not seem to adequately address the long-standing and embarrassing congestion at the eastbound lanes coming from the Interstate 10 bridge being forced into only one lane where they join I-10 east.
The main culprit is the Washington Street exit-only lane. The response to closing this ramp was that the state would have to provide data to get approval from the Federal Highway Authority before making any modifications to interstate interchanges. Also stated that closing this ramp would not make a big difference in reducing congestion and we are not seeing large numbers of crashes at these ramps. Why? The main reason for the congestion is that very few, if any, vehicles use this off-ramp. All vehicles are being forced onto I-10 east. Interstate 110 could be left alone as is up to this merge, but removing the Washington Street “exit only” lane would allow eastbound traffic extra lane length to merge without panic-driven merging with dangerous, large trucks.
What’s preventing an analysis and data accumulating study with Washington Street exit traffic counts to justify closing this exit to the Federal Highway Authority? This is, indeed, a serious interstate traffic problem and has been for years. The state DOTD has long recognized this congestion problem with a system that was designed for 1970s traffic and continues to shelve solving this embarrassing single lane I-10 constriction at the capitol city of the state of Louisiana. Temporary concrete barriers could close the exit until more permanent closure could be installed.