I-10 upgrades will improve flow, but more traffic during roadwork

Staff Report

Major upgrades to Interstate 10 between La. 415 and the I-10/I-12 split will close one lane of traffic each direction for at least one year but will eventually provide a smoother flow for commuters along the thoroughfare.

The widening projects – which were announced in 2018 – are set to begin in 2024. Work could take up to a year, said Dr. Shawn Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

Upgrades to improve traffic flow on Interstate 10 are scheduled to begin in 2024

The $1.2 billion project will carry four lanes throughout the corridor to add capacity. It will also include longer on-ramps, allowing appropriate distance for merging.

It will also include wider shoulders.

Perhaps the most important part will be the elimination of the one-lane stretch of I-10 eastbound, which has created mass congestion past La. 415 on the westbound artery.

The single lane also has created traffic headaches for motorists south of the Intracoastal, often stretching south of Brusly for the afternoon traffic by commuters from Iberville and WBR who live in Baton Rouge.

“Right now, the area of Interstate 10 turns from Long Beach, Calif., to the East Coast where you cross the bridge in Baton Rouge turns into one lane,” Wilson said. “That area will be eliminated in this process.”

The project marks Louisiana’s first redevelopment of an urban structure since the inception of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, he said.

“It’s a long, long time coming. In Louisiana, we have not done a redevelopment of urban infrastructure since its inception,” he said. “This interstate system you drive through Baton Rouge is part of the system Eisenhower built, and it predates me as an adult.”

The maintenance of traffic will include temporary striping and signage improvements, signal timing on alternate routes and a I-12 HOV lane, among other plans.

The work will move into full gear after work is completed on a new City Park Lake Bridge along I-10 near Dalrymple Drive.

The first phase of work in the first quarter of 2024 will include the start of lane restrictions to two lanes in each direction.  Plans call a return to the three lanes each direction by the first quarter of 2025.

Completion and the opening of four lanes from Washington Street to Acadian is targeted for the first quarter of 2027.

Construction will begin in April on a project to replace the La. 1 Intracoastal Bridge near Port Allen, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced last month.

This $57.7 million project will replace the southbound bridge with a new bridge that will be built on the west side of the existing structure.

Additionally, Ernest Wilson Drive and La. 1 will be realigned to connect with the new bridge.

Vehicles will remain on the current alignment until the new bridge is completed, when both southbound and northbound traffic will be shifted to the new bridge.

Two lanes of traffic in each direction will be in place during construction.

Temporary lane closures will be kept to a minimum and will only be allowed for a duration of a single day from the hours of 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.

This is part of a two-phase project that once completed, will have a new southbound bridge that has three 12-foot lanes and 10-foot shoulders and a new northbound bridge with two 12-foot lanes and 10-foot shoulders and a barrier separated exit lane for I-10 eastbound.

Phase 2 is scheduled to go to bid in the summer 2023.