Traffic heading eastbound on Interstate 10 between Acadian and College snarls as it passes beneath the Valley Street overpass during the lunch hour, Friday, August 5, 2016, after a wreck involving an overturned 18-wheeler shut down I-10 eastbound at Seigen Lane, diverting all traffic to surface streets after Essen Lane in Baton Rouge, La.

Visible work on the $360 million plan to widen Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge is likely a year away, Louisiana's transportation chief said Thursday.

The upgrade will add a new lane in each direction for much of the 3 1/2 mile stretch between the "new" Mississippi River bridge and the I-10/12 split.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the plans with considerable fanfare a year ago on Saturday.

Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation, said work on the Baton Rouge plan in 2019 is expected to be low-profile, like around the Acadian Thruway underpass, right-of-way acquisition and minor work on surface streets.

Wilson said officials are still designing the project.


Framed by the St. Louis Street on-ramp, the sun sets behind the Mississippi River Bridge servicing Interstate 10, connecting East and West Baton Rouge Parishes, Wednesday, January 9, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

"It is going to be some very minor things (in 2019) that you will see," Wilson said. "Depending on the rate of design you will see things ramp up probably in 2020."

State officials have said previously work would begin in 2019 or 2020.

The widening is expected to take 5-8 years.

The Baton Rouge project is the most expensive of three set to be financed with $650 million of federal bonds.

Work on improved access to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport could be visible to motorists by the end of 2019.

That $110 million effort includes a flyover around Loyola Drive and I-10, and an easier path to the new terminal.

Wilson said state officials expect to have a notice to proceed or contract by August.

The Loyola project will be done using a method called design/build, which uses a team of highway designers and builders in one step to speed construction.

No such decision has been made on the Baton Rouge project.

The Baton Rouge and New Orleans work, and a third project on I-20 in Bossier City to ease access to Barksdale Air Force Base, are notable amid Louisiana's $14 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.

They will be financed by the state essentially drawing annual federal aid dollars in advance, then repaying the federal government yearly with a portion of what the state collects – $67 million of about $780 million.

The federal bonds are called Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bonds, or GARVEE.

State and federal officials reached agreement on details of the borrowing last August.

Wilson said Thursday he expects the first round of bonds sold to total about $200 million and take place in April.

Sales depend on the construction outlook because 85 percent of the money has to be spent in three years.

The Barksdale project is first in line followed by the Loyola work.

The I-10 widening in Baton Rouge has sparked criticism from some home and business owners in the path of the work.

The state held three public forums last year to let citizens get a detailed look at the plans.

The corridor set for improvements is the site of daily traffic backups, and contributes to Baton Rouge's reputation for ever worsening commuter gridlock.

A fourth undertaking, the new Belle Chasse tunnel and movable bridge, is expected to get a small portion of the bond dollars.

Another high-profile project – widening I-10 in Baton Rouge between Highland Road and La. Hwy. 73 in suburban Ascension Parish – may take longer than expected.

The work, which was formally unveiled a year ago Friday, was initially set to be finished by mid-2020.

Wilson said it may be slightly later that year because rainfall has been 30 percent higher than expected, sparking delays.

Accidents in the 6 1/2 mile corridor are also on the rise, he said.

The pricetag for construction is $72 million.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.