Aiming to reduce traffic backups, Gov. John Bel Edwards and others Friday announced the opening of a new exit off Interstate 110 south near the "new" Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge.
The $9.3 million Terrace Avenue exit will allow southbound motorists to get to the Washington Street area without having to cross multiple lanes of traffic.
The new exit begins over Myrtle Avenue, extends over Julia Street and connects with Terrace Avenue.
Desperate for affordable fixes to daily traffic problems near the Interstate 10 Mississippi River bridge, Gov. John Bel Edwards and other stat…
The previous configuration led to backups on I-110 south as well as for eastbound motorists leaving the bridge, especially during afternoon rush hours.
The new setup will allow southbound travelers to exit left off the interstate instead of going right to the Washington Street exit.
"These improvements will eliminate the need for traffic from I-110 southbound to weave across merging traffic to take the Washington Street exit," Edwards said in a statement that accompanied the announcement.
"Washington Street will not be taken out of commission and can still be used by travelers coming east on I-10," he said.
Edwards also said the exit is a precursor to his $360 million plan, using federal bonds, to widen Interstate 10 from the bridge to the I-10/12 split.
Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said about 98,000 motorists use the corridor daily and about 5,000 or 6,000 cars and trucks will use the new Terrace Avenue/Washington Street exit each day.
"This is a highly traveled corridor," he said.
The governor noted that the 14-month project involved federal, state and local officials.
"This is one of those transportation problems that should have been fixed decades ago," said U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge.
Graves is a member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and played a role in landing federal dollars for the exit.
"Transportation is a pervasive problem in our area and we are plucking projects off the to-do list one by one," he said in a statement.
Graves' chief of staff Paul Sawyer attended the ribbon cutting as well as state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, who is running for the state Senate and Marty Chabert, chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The announcement marked the third such event in three days ahead of Saturday's primary election, with Edwards bidding for a second term against Republican challengers Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone.
Earlier this week Edwards was on hand for the start of an I-10 widening project near Breaux Bridge.
On Thursday state officials announced work on Loyola Avenue that will ease access to the new terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
The governor scoffed at the notion that the announcements were timed to take place just ahead of election day.
An $8.8 million project aimed at easing traffic problems near the Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge may be finished next month.
"Are you supposed to stop being governor when elections come up?" Edwards asked. "We moved forward with projects on transportation infrastructure as fast as we have been able to do them the entire time I have been governor.
"The projects are ready when they are ready," Edwards said. "Do you think we ask Brown Construction to hold up in order to allow this ribbon cutting today?"
The exit earlier expected to be opened in August.
Wilson blamed weather for the delay.