Covering Louisiana

Mar 9, 2011 12:42 PM by Press Release

Louisianas Major Cities Show Improvement on Traffic Congestion Report

Baton Rouge, La. - Louisiana's major cities show improvement on the 2010 INRIX Traffic Congestion Report. The INRIX National Traffic Scorecard 2010 Annual Report released its list of the 100 Most Congested Metro Cities. Baton Rouge and New Orleans metro areas moved further down the list, showing improvement since the 2009 and 2008 reports were released. Baton Rouge moved from 32nd on the 2008 most congested city to 42th, and New Orleans moved from 35th to 40th.

The report further supports the ongoing efforts of the state to widen I-10 and I-12. These are major arteries into the heart of Baton Rouge and these projects, totaling more than $293M, will help to relieve congestion and enhance economic development opportunities. Further, improvements to this corridor provide even more incentives for businesses to locate to Louisiana.

Additionally, the infrastructure in the greater New Orleans area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The state is committed to funding road projects that assist in the recovery efforts and ease congestion in this vital Louisiana metropolitan area. Approximately $122 million has been invested for various I-10 resurfacing and capacity projects, including approximately $86 million on improvements to the I-10/Causeway interchange. The Causeway interchange along with the widening of the Huey P. Long (HPL) Bridge, an approximate $1.2 billion investment, are just a few of the projects that will ultimately help relieve congestion. Causeway will be complete in 2012 and HPL Bridge will follow in 2013.

Since the Jindal Administration took office, the state has invested a total of $3.6 billion in roads, prioritized projects along major corridors and reduced the backlog of highway projects by $1.2 billion. What this means for Louisiana is a safer and more efficient highway system for our citizens. Specifically, an approximate $1.6 billion has been invested in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas. Below is an overview of the funding specific to each area and major projects under construction as well as future projects.

Baton Rouge Congestion Relief Projects:
Since the Jindal Administration took office, the state has invested almost $600 million in transportation improvement projects in Baton Rouge and the surrounding community and has committed to invest an estimated $125 million to $150 million in projects in the upcoming fiscal year. Additionally, the state is currently conducting a feasibility study to review the potential to widen the interstate from the 10/12 split to the Mississippi River Bridge. DOTD will work closely with the community to gain their input into this future project.

Major projects in the Baton Rouge area that will help ease congestion include:

· Approximately $293 million to widen 16 miles of I-10 and I-12 from four to six lanes in East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes

o Recently, $38 million was appropriated towards the continued widening of I-12 from Juban to Walker.

o In September 2010, DOTD broke ground on a $36.2 million project that will widen approximately two miles of I-12 from two to three lanes eastbound from Pete's Highway to Juban Road and westbound from Juban Road to just east of 4-H Club Road. The project is scheduled to be complete in early 2012.

o Other projects under the Geaux Wider Program include widening I-12 from Pete's Highway to O'Neal Lane, scheduled for completion in mid 2012; widening I-10 from the 10/12 Split to Siegen Lane, scheduled for completion in late 2011; and widening I-10 from Siegen Lane to Highland Road, scheduled for completion in early 2013.

o Additionally, 16 ramp meters along I-12 from Baton Rouge to Livingston Parish will be installed to help ease congestion at designated on-ramps and increase travel speeds.

· $11 million project to widen O'Neal Lane from two to five lanes between Florida Boulevard and I-12

· $19.9 million to replace and widen the La. 64 Amite River Bridge at Magnolia

· La. 408 (Hooper Rd.) Extension from La. 37 (Greenwell Springs Road) to La. 16 (Range Ave.) - This project would extend La. 408 (Hooper Rd.) from La. 37 (Greenwell Springs Road) in East Baton
Rouge Parish east across the Amite River to La. 16 (Range Ave.) in Livingston Parish. The project is currently in the feasibility study stage. The basic concept under review is providing another east/west connection between East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes that would relieve congestion on Florida Blvd and I-12. N-Y Associates was awarded the study contract in January 2011. The feasibility study should be concluded Summer 2011.

New Orleans Congestion Relief Projects:

Since the Jindal administration took office in 2008, almost $1 billion has been invested in transportation improvement projects in the greater New Orleans area. The state will invest an estimated $275 million to $300 million in projects in the upcoming fiscal year. In addition to the listed projects below, DOTD has several intelligent transportation systems projects which will ease congestion including signalization upgrades, interconnection of traffic signals coupled with the capability to remotely monitor and adjust signal timings, changeable message signs, traffic flow detectors, and fiber optic communications to assist with monitoring of traffic flow and response to highway incidents.

Major projects in the New Orleans area include:

· $122 million for various I-10 resurfacing and capacity projects, including approximately $86 million on improvements to the I-10/Causeway interchange. Causeway interchange improvements will build new ramps from northbound Causeway to westbound I-10; from westbound I-10 to northbound Causeway; from westbound I-10 to Veterans Boulevard; and from northbound Causeway to Veterans Boulevard. The new ramps will improve safety and ease congestion at this heavily traveled interchange. Work on the project began in April 2009 will be complete in spring 2011. Phase II will be a mirror-image project of Phase I. Phase II will provide elevated eastbound and westbound ramps for southbound Causeway Boulevard drivers who are getting on to I-10. This will eliminate the friction with ground-level traffic coming from Veterans Boulevard. At ground-level, the project will provide separate ramps for the Veterans drivers getting on I-10. Work on the project began in November 2009 and is expected to be complete in summer 2012.

· $81.4 million to fund repairs to other roads damaged by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike

· $2.6 million to fund La. 23 (Belle Chasse Highway) and La. 428 (Behrman Highway) signal improvements. This project will upgrade traffic signals along La. 23 (Belle Chasse Highway) from Gretna Boulevard to Russell Drive, and on La. 428 (Behrman Highway) from South Monterey Court to Tullis Drive. The new signals will have state-of-the-art technology and will help make traffic more efficient and reduce traffic congestion. Currently, the signals and new controllers have been installed at the intersections, and the remaining work involves installing communication towers. Work should be complete by the end of March 2011.

· $803 million to replace the I-10 Twin Span Bridge between Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. This project will replace the existing two-lane I-10 Twin Span Bridge that was damaged during Hurricane Katrina with a new three-lane bridge. The new bridge will be 30 feet high, which is 21 feet higher than the existing bridge. The increased elevation will allow the bridge to withstand higher storm surges. The increase in lanes will ease congestion and allow more lanes to be used when contraflow is implemented. The remaining work includes building bridge approaches. The entire project will be complete prior to the mid-2012 contract deadline. (NOTE: project was let before 2008 total investment number.)

· $1.2 billion to widen the Huey P. Long Bridge. The completed Huey P. Long Bridge widening project will include three 11-foot lanes in each direction, along with new inside and outside shoulders across the bridge. The project also includes the construction of new roadway approaches that will provide signalized intersections at Bridge City Avenue and Jefferson Highway. This widening project will add an additional travel lane and inside and outside shoulders to each side of the bridge, providing a safer, less congested Mississippi River crossing. More than 50,000 drivers cross the bridge each day. Work on this project began in April 2006 and should be completed by mid-2013. (Note: Approximately $752 million invested in this project since 2008. First phases of project were let before 2008 total investment number listed above.)

Major upcoming projects scheduled to be let which will improve traffic congestion:

· $50M-$70M - I-10 from Veterans to Clearview - This construction project will widen 1.2 miles of I-10 from three to five lanes in each direction between Veterans and Clearview. It will also include ramp and bridge work to accommodate the widening and will build a sound wall along this segment. The project is currently scheduled to be let in April 2011.

· $20M-$30M- La. 3017 (Peters Road) on and off ramps Phase I (Macarthur Drive Interchange Completion) - This project will construct an exit ramp from the westbound West Bank Expressway just west of the Manhattan Boulevard exit to serve Peters Road, Destrehan Avenue and the area between the Manhattan Boulevard and Barataria Boulevard exits. Approximately $700K in 2009 surplus funds has been committed to construction. Final design is expected to be complete in January 2011, and the project is tentatively scheduled to be let for construction in July 2011.

· $10M-$15M- 4th Street Extension in Gretna - This project will extend 4th Street in Gretna by 1.2 miles from La. 18 to La. 466 (Burmaster). This project was designed to prevent truck traffic from using neighborhood streets to carry cargo. The City of Gretna is also building a new road (Governor Hall Connector) in conjunction with this project. At this time, the project is tentatively scheduled to be let in fiscal year 12-13.

· $2.5M-$5M- La. 428 (General De Gaulle Drive) improvements - This project will add turn lanes and replace the street lighting system between Mardi Gras Boulevard and Holiday Drive. It will also add an additional eastbound travel lane. The project is scheduled to be let in April 2011.

The INRIX National Traffic Scorecard 2010 Annual Report provides an analysis of the state of congestion in 2010 across America and how it changed versus 2009. The report is available at http://www.inrix.com/scorecard/default.asp.

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