BRAC lauds plan to rebuild, widen ‘worst traffic chokepoint’ in Baton Rouge

A large swath of Interstate 10 between the Mississippi River Bridge and the I-10/I-12 split is set to be rebuilt and widened as part of a $600 million infrastructure package that will be announced today by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.

The plan earned praise from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which this morning called the stretch of interstate the “worst traffic chokepoint” in the Capital Region. The Baton Rouge project will cost $350 million and was previously identified by BRAC as one of the most beneficial megaprojects in the region.

“Not only will this project significantly improve quality of life for those who live, work and recreate in the Capital Region every day, it will also provide major benefits to the economic development of the Baton Rouge area and Louisiana,” BRAC says in a news release.

The state will soon request bonds that would allow Louisiana to repay the debt with yearly federal highway funds, paid over 12 years. If the funding is approved, three areas of the state will see major infrastructure projects.

The Baton Rouge project, which will involve widening and reconstructing I-10, has long been discussed as a way to relieve traffic congestion. It has also rankled some business owners near the interstate, while others have lauded the proposal as a way to reduce gridlock.

The other projects announced include a new interchange on I-10 in Kenner to serve the new airport terminal in New Orleans, a project in Bossier City and up to 10% partial funding for toll bridges, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The announcement comes a day after the groundbreaking of another I-10 widening project between Highland Road and Prairieville, bringing the 6.5-mile stretch of highway from four to six lanes.

Edwards and a group of state and local officials are expected to formally announce the projects today at an 11:30 a.m. press conference that’s taking place at the Water Campus.

—Sam Karlin

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