The Interstate 10 interchange at College Drive, one of Baton Rouge’s most notorious bottlenecks, is about to get an extreme makeover.
Hoping to ease a bit of the city’s white-knuckle driving experience, state and local leaders Tuesday announced the start of construction of a new $52.3 million College Drive exit for westbound traffic on I-10 and I-12. Construction will continue through late 2022, weather permitting.
The new roadwork has two main parts:
- New westbound I-12 traffic lanes that will more closely follow the path of the current I-12 eastbound lane.
- An upgraded I-10 westbound bridge that will cross over all lanes of I-12 before a new exit to College Drive.
The goal of the revamped exit is to create a more harmonious merger of I-10 and I-12 westbound traffic, avoiding the current need for I-10 motorists to cross multiple lanes to get off the highway at College Drive. At the same time, the design is meant to minimize impact to surrounding businesses and neighborhoods during and after construction.
It’s a busy corridor traversed by nearly 100,000 vehicles a day, with 21,000 vehicles daily using that College Drive exit, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
“Not only will this reduce conflict points for vehicles trying to cross over multiple lanes of traffic, it will also assist by alleviating traffic that stays on the mainline interstate during peak hours,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson. “This is a signature project for this region and state, and I am very proud of the department for what it has done to deliver it.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards said the new interchange is part of more than $337 million of infrastructure work his administration has been undertaking in the Capital region.
“Investments such as this interstate enhancement project improve our economy and our overall quality of life,” Edwards said.
The design-build team includes contractor Boh Bros. Construction Company and designer G.E.C., Inc., formerly Gulf Engineers & Consultants.
This new exit is one phase of a much larger $716 million project to I-10 from La. 415 in West Baton Rouge Parish to the I-10/12 split in East Baton Rouge. The work is being financed with federal bonds that function as a sort of advance on the state’s annual federal transportation aid.
“This College Drive flyover will make travel safer and efficient for all Louisianans,” said Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp said the new College Drive exit is a notable milestone and a meaningful step in alleviating traffic congestion, but the job is still far from done.
“Full project funding will require at least twice as much investment as has been allocated to this job-killing bottleneck,” Knapp said. “Moreover, the painful construction process could potentially be shorter if it were fully funded. We continue to call on the Legislature, governor, and our congressional delegation to find infrastructure dollars to accelerate this project.”