Local traffic causes most of Interstate 10 bridge traffic, study shows

Staff Report

A study for the next Mississippi River bridge for the capital region shows that 80 percent of the daily drivers along Interstate 10 are local motorists.

A recent study indicates it’s mostly local traffic that has caused miles of congestion on Interstate 10.

The results of that study were presented to the Capital Area Broad and Bridge District at its meeting last week at the State Capital.

The study indicates that it’s mostly local traffic that has caused miles of congestion from east of Grosse Tete on Interstate 10 to areas of I-10 beyond Highland Road and portion of I-12 past Denham Springs.

The studies went public nearly four months an announcement that all three sites for the bridge will be in Iberville Parish, in Plaquemine on the west end and St. Gabriel on the east bank.

The announcement has drawn some concern from residents that the bridge may be too far to reroute trucks to cut into the miles of daily congestion along the Horace Wilkinson Bridge (aka “the new Mississippi River Bridge”).

Trucks only make up 15 percent of the daily traffic along the bridge, while 18 percent of motorists pass through the Baton Rouge area, according to Kara Moree, project manager for Atlas Technical Consultants, the advisory firm contracted to handle the bridge selection.

Moree said she thought it would have been closer to a 50-50 ratio in terms of daily traffic on the bridge, or that trucks would comprise most of the congestion.

“But, in reality, when you see the I-10 bridge, what you usually see are big trucks, and they are more noticeable,” she said. “But you don’t see or notice the 10 cars that surround one truck.”

The traffic studies show that nearly 126,000 drivers travel across the bridge daily, with one-third or them either entering or exiting the La. 1 exit that leads into West Baton Rouge, which has an abundance of residential communities and industrial sites.

The studies indicate that the bridge will draw 24,000 cars and trucks to the artery and alleviate some of the congestion from the existing bridge.

The data compiled on the bridge – location, community impact and other issues – will be included in the ongoing environmental studies that will lead to the final decision on the site of the bridge. The decision on a bridge site will be made by summer 2024, Moree said.