U. S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, took the unusual and risky step of standing on Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge to film a 30-second TV ad that touts his assistance upgrading Louisiana's roads and bridges.
The spot opens with Graves, who on Nov. 6 will be seeking his third term in Congress, facing the camera while 18-wheelers and other cars and trucks are approaching in the background.
The Republican noted that the lane near the Washington Street exit is the sole spot on the coast-to-coast interstate where traffic narrows to one lane.
"There is a reason for that," he says in the ad. "It is stupid."
Graves then describes how he has helped generate aid to upgrade the exit as well as other improvements on I-10 and I-12.
Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said Friday he was surprised, to put it mildly, when he saw the ad with Graves standing on I-10.
Wilson noted that it is illegal for pedestrians to be on the interstate.
"I would hope he would not do that," the DOTD chief said of Graves. "I would say officially my hope is others don't try it."
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Wilson also said he conveyed his views to the congressman.
When the ad was done and how long it took for camera crews and others is unclear.
The spot was reportedly filmed during the height of afternoon rush hour to help make a point.
Graves appears to be standing near speed bumps that separate I-10 from the exit lane.
The exit is notorious for being the source of daily traffic jams.
The two lanes of eastbound traffic leaving the Mississippi River bridge regularly includes cars and trucks whose drivers suddenly find themselves headed to Washington Street unless they can quickly wedge their way into the adjacent eastbound lane.
Wilson said Graves and the rest of the Louisiana congressional delegation, including U. S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, deserve credit for teaming up in the name of road and bridge improvements.
That includes a $60 million federal grant that is financing I-10 improvements between Lafayette and Henderson, which then freed up money to make improvements around Washington Street.
A $360 million project to widen I-10 from the split to the I-10/12 split will make other changes around Washington Street too.
That plan is being financed with federal bonds.
Grave's office did not respond to request for comments Thursday or Friday.
The congressman faces three longshot challengers in the Nov. 6 contest.