The state will solicit bids this month for removal of the abandoned toll plaza at the West Bank approach to the Crescent City Connection. The project should be completed in about a year.
Farther along the elevated West Bank Expressway, the new westbound on-ramp at Manhattan Boulevard should open by the end of March, with the new exit ramp to the service road east of Maple Avenue due to be completed by mid-July.
That work will complete the $49.7 million first phase of the so-called MacArthur Interchange Improvements project, a massive effort to reduce congestion on Manhattan and Barataria boulevards and provide separate access for trucks headed for maritime businesses along Peters Road.
The second phase of that project will deal with the eastbound traffic, with the relocation of the existing Manhattan exit ramp and the construction of a new entrance ramp from Peters, along with surface road improvements. That phase will cost between $30 million and $50 million, though funding has not yet been identified, the state said.
The toll plaza removal, a separate project, will cost between $2.5 million and $5 million.
Three years after tolls on the bridge were eliminated by voters, the project is ready to move forward now that the state has finished adding a travel lane to the lakebound Pontchartrain Expressway near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and added meters to regulate the flow of traffic from the on-ramps to reduce congestion. Those meters are in the testing phase and will become active in March.
Crews will remove the toll booths, repair the concrete and restripe the lanes, work that officials said will be done by early 2017.
Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman Bambi Hall said it won’t be known how long the project will affect bridge traffic until the construction contract is awarded.
The booths have been unmanned since voters eliminated the tolls in May 2013, with motorists now slowing down just enough to thread their way between them.
As for the MacArthur Interchange work, the Manhattan Boulevard on-ramp was demolished in May to make room for the new exit ramp to the service road.
In addition to the congestion caused by the construction, drivers on Manhattan looking to head west have had to detour through the Harvey Tunnel and use the MacArthur entrance ramp to enter the elevated expressway.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.