Work crews have resumed making the repairs and upgrades to Corporate Boulevard that were put on hold in early December, when the project was halted to ease traffic congestion during the busy holiday shopping season.
Merchants, already struggling from a year of dismal sales caused by pandemic-related shutdowns, had complained to City Hall that the roadwork—though necessary—was coming at the worst possible time and was negatively impacting their business.
But now that the four-month project—which includes repairing cracks and potholes to the concrete roadway and upgrading curb cuts to make them ADA compliant—some are wondering why one of Baton Rouge’s relatively newer thoroughfares needs an overhaul already.
Fred Raiford, director of transportation and drainage, points out that Corporate Boulevard is actually older than some may realize. The first section of the road, from College Drive to Ward’s Creek, was completed and turned over to the city in 1972 by the private developers, who, at the time, were also developing the Esplanade Mall.
The newer section of the road, from Ward’s Creek to Jefferson Highway, was completed in 1987.
Raiford cannot say if the concrete roadway has gotten more usage than was originally planned for by city-parish engineers, though he says the eastern end, or newer section, of Corporate near Towne Center—which opened in 2005—is in worse shape than some of the older sections.
“The Towne Center area is where we had the most damage and that is where we’ve done most of the repairs,” he says. “Bottom line, it was bad and people were complaining so we wanted to get it fixed.”
Much of the repairs will center on replacing panels of concrete that had faults or cracks under them, as well as repairing cracked and broken curbs. Raiford says south Louisiana’s soil conditions are notorious for causing road problems, an assertion local engineers support.
“Louisiana has horrible soil,” says local engineer Wilfred Berry of the SJB Group. “It doesn’t surprise me they are having to fix it. If you look at I-12 they have done several repairs at different times of its life and they’ll have to keep doing it forever.”
With more than $1 billion in new road and infrastructure projects under way as part of the city-parish MovEBR program, in addition to repair projects like the one on Corporate, Raiford says the city-parish is looking at better ways to build roads that can withstand heavy congestion.
“Nothing lasts forever,” he says. “But we’re looking at new design standards; most of it has to do with your base, and our soil conditions are not always conducive to road base.”