Four years ago, the East Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce (not to be confused with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber) suggested the $8.8 million Terrace Street exit to solve southbound Interstate 110 crossover traffic conflicts on the Interstate 10 Washington exit in Baton Rouge. Summer completion is days away. Many thanks to U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson and Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker for securing the funding and pushing it to reality.
“What about the bridge Eastbound I-10 traffic?” we asked officials at our monthly meetings. They said not to worry, it would have a dedicated lane closed to cross traffic. We relaxed but were completely surprised last August when DOTD claimed the concrete had only 15 years left and wanted complete replacement. Rome’s concrete colosseum is being restored after almost 2000 years. Industry experts estimate $2 million can seal and graffiti-proof our never-sealed interstate.
Public questions (we submitted 67) were due Sept. 12, 2018, a month after DOTD unveiled its plan. DOTD finally answered them May 17 — 247 days later. Virtually all scheduling, detour routes and property impact questions were relegated to being answered in future phases. DOTD will likely announce the $1 billion plus price tag and an unmanageable 8-10-year completion. We propose a simpler, four to five-lane solution at all the choke points for approximately $77 million and 3 years to construct. Here’s how:
- Demolish and move the Washington I-10 exit and entrance 1,250 feet north to Louise Street.
- Braddock Street, adjoining I-10 /110 on the west, has 38 feet of unused right of way its entire 2,100-foot length. The new Louise entrance will provide continuous fourth and fifth lanes all the way east to Dalrymple. I-10/110 merging length increases from 1,000 feet to 4,000 feet.
- Connect Dalrymple’s Westbound I-10 entrance with a continuous fourth lane to Louise. A brief trip west allows an entrance onto Louise’s new eastbound entrance — a “Texas U.”
- I-10 Westbound: Extend the dangerously short Acadian and Perkins entrances 400 and 600 feet respectively.
- City Park Lake’s award-winning bridges can remain and be repainted the original sky-blue color, instead of demolishing Southdowns-Valley Park Nairn Street Bridge and the Acadian Railroad Underpass. Let the yearlong loss of those three bridges in the heart of Baton Rouge sink in.
Have our port officials reviewed the plan? Why isn’t an emergency vehicle crossover in DOTD's plan? An 18-wheeler stalled recently right where we have a crossover in our plan.
DOTD has done a great job on the almost-finished Terrace exit. These suggestions will address the four-lane challenge, not waste any concrete for future expansion, save possibly $1 billion and be finished in 3 years, not 9.
EBR Parish Chamber of Commerce Infrastructure Committee