The $360 million widening of Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge means the state will buy at least 17 homes, add up to nine new sections of sound walls and delay plans for a westbound express ramp to College Drive if the funds run short, state officials said Monday.

Most of the affected homes are between either Washington Street and Dalrymple Drive or Perkins Road and Acadian Thruway.

Of the 17, nine or 10 are rental properties, one is vacant and six are owner occupied, said Eric Kalivoda, deputy secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development.

The state also plans to buy four businesses in the path of the work, including a convenience store, salon, barber shop and The Overpass Merchant, a restaurant at 2904 Perkins Rd, officials said.

The details are spelled out in documents and maps that will be on display starting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at McKinley Middle Magnet School.

The public meeting, which lasts until 8 p.m., is the first of three this week for residents to see the plans, which will add a new travel lane in each direction for a good portion of the 3 1/2 mile corridor between the Mississippi River bridge and the I-10/12 split.

Also, the Perkins Road on- and off-ramps will be closed and the westbound on-ramp and eastbound off-ramp at Acadian Thruway will be lengthened, with a new third lane set for Acadian from the exit to Perkins.

Backers say the work is long overdue in a city plagued by daily traffic tie-ups.

Morning and evening rush hour travel times will be trimmed by up to two-thirds, according to planners.

Without the expansion, officials say, commuters will spend up to 80 percent more time in their cars and trucks by 2032.

"Something has to give," Kalivoda said.

The work is scheduled to start next year. It will take 5-7 years to finish.

The project is part of a $600 million highway package announced by Gov. John Bel Edwards in January, including improved access to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport from I-10.

It will be financed using bonds to be repaid over 12 years with a portion of annual federal highway aid for state transportation projects.

The homes and businesses are part of less than five acres of right of way needed for the expansion, DOTD says.

Kalivoda said that, aside from the 17 homes, four more will be closer to the interstate once the expansion is finished and the owners may want to relocate. "We are offering them the option to sell if they want to," he said.

Most of the home and business owners have been contacted by state officials.

Operators of The Overpass Merchant could not be reached for comment Monday.

DOTD uses licensed appraisers to gauge the value of property, with each one getting two appraisals.

The owner  can also hire his or her own appraiser, and those findings can be used in DOTD's price review.

The state provides some money for relocation assistance.

Aside from homes and businesses the state will also buy 10 vacant lots and 61 partial parcels, including 28 on vacant lots.

The expansion will also mean new and revamped sound walls along the corridor, with some up to 14 feet high.

Four sections of sounds walls are eligible for federal funds: Fig Street eastbound to the east side of City Park Lakes; westbound I-10 between Dalrymple Drive and Washington Street; the east side of City Park Lakes to east of Christian Street and on westbound I-10 from Christian Street to the east side of City Park Lakes.

Five other sections of sound walls would need state dollars.

Those include eastbound I-10 from East Boulevard and Washington Street; westbound I-10 from Washington Street to Terrace Street and westbound I-10 from the east side of City Park Lakes to the west side of the lakes.

Also, some existing sound walls between Acadian and College will be relocated or replaced to make room for the wider interstate lanes.

Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, has repeatedly said that exactly how much work is done depends on how far the $360 million goes.

The plan includes construction of an elevated express ramp on westbound I-10, and over I-12, for motorists headed to College Drive.

Westbound drivers now have to make a triple lane change to get off at College.

Kalivoda said the flyover could be done separately, at a later date, from the other work.

"We would probably leave that off if we had to leave something off," he said.

The public meetings are also meant to gauge interest in constructing new roundabouts – circular intersections that slow but keeps traffic moving in one direction.

One under review would be on Dalrymple, where there is now a stop light near the entrance to westbound I-10 and the Knock Knock Museum.

The second meeting is Wednesday, Addis Community Center, 7520 Highway 1 South, and on Thursday at the Baton Rouge Marriott Hotel, 5500 Hilton Avenue.

Both sessions are from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 


Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.