The nightmare that was Baton Rouge traffic today was due to an 18-wheeler traveling down Interstate 10 losing its rig near College Drive, leaving debris strewn across the highway and backing up traffic across the city during peak hours.
The incident occurred about 10 a.m., multiple media reports say. No injuries were reported though a DOTD vehicle parked on the side of the roadway was hit.
The accident—which resulted in the driver being ticketed—underscores the city’s persistent problems with traffic congestion.
Rodney Mallett, a DOTD spokesperson, says traffic will back up on the interstate whenever there’s a crash, even if only one lane is closed. The agency though has begun monitoring the interstate through the Traffic Management Center and instituted the Motorist Assistance Patrol to assist with clearing vehicles from roadways. DOTD also relies on a messaging network—which includes 511la.org and the site’s accompanying app—to encourage motorists to use alternate routes.
But can more be done to move traffic along faster for motorists?
DOTD is always seeks ways to upgrades its system with the resources the agency has, Mallett says, noting that additional cameras and message signs have been added. The agency also has added extra MAP units and expanded their routes to help move traffic along.
Federal Highway Administration studies estimate that an average of four minutes of traffic delay is created for every minute that a stalled vehicle is blocking a lane. To that end, Mallett says monitoring the interstate through the Traffic Management Center and the use of MAP units has cut the time it takes to move a vehicle from a crash scene from about 30-40 minutes to 15-20 minutes.
“That being said, safety is the No. 1 concern. A lane or road will not re-open until the scene has been deemed safe by us or our partners and emergency responders such as State Police or local law enforcement,” Mallett says. “Depending on the type of incident, clearing times will vary. Incidents such as hazardous waste spills, fatalities and large debris on the roadway will take longer to clear than a slow-speed fender-bender.”