City-parish officials unveil Sullivan Road improvements at ceremony in Central _lowres


East Baton Rouge Parish traffic authorities have completed another project in their ongoing efforts to carve out more north-south driving routes.

They officially introduced the completion of upgrades to Sullivan Road in Central on Thursday. The $11.3 million project widened the road to four lanes between the Central Thruway and Wax Road. It also added a raised median and turn lanes at several intersections and smoothed out some sharp turns.

“This is a great day. ... We have to get traffic moving throughout East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Mayor-President Kip Holden. “A growing population needs sustainable infrastructure to thrive.”

The work on Sullivan was part of the parish’s Green Light Plan, which is funded through a sales tax passed in 2005. Leaders have said they want to improve local roads to ease traffic on the interstates and Airline Highway.

“Everything was going east and west,” Green Light Plan program manager Jonathan Charbonnet said Thursday.

The parish’s plan has been to open up more routes from Nicholson Drive in the southeast to Hooper Road in the northwest in what Charbonnet described as “a loop without the toll.”

The Green Light Plan already has made improvements to the road and bridges of the four-lane Central Thruway immediately south of the recently completed work on Sullivan.

Construction crews have widened O’Neal Lane to South Harrell’s Ferry Road along the same route south of the interstate and have begun widening another stretch down to George O’Neal Road.

The state Department of Transportation and Development intends to continue the widening of Sullivan to the north between Wax and Hooper.

Together, the past and new upgrades are intended to move commuters from Central to Baton Rouge more quickly. Sullivan Road also is not far from the Magnolia Bridge, which spans the Amite River to connect East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

William Daniel, chief administrative officer for the Mayor-President’s Office, called the Green Light Plan a transformative project.

“A lot has happened in the past 10 years,” he said.

The plan includes 36 projects, though several were divided into smaller phases. At Thursday’s ceremony, project director Michael Songy said construction has concluded on 72 percent of the projects. Work has begun on the rest, though a few are still in early design stages. The upcoming work will be performed on multiple segments of Old Hammond Highway and portions of Hooper Road, Perkins Road and the Picardy-Perkins Connector.

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.