BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – On Monday, September 26 consultants shared insight into the capital region’s traffic patterns and how the new proposed Mississippi River Bridge could impact it.
A study of where the traffic comes from and where it goes after it crosses the bridge shows that over 80% of traffic stays local. This includes traffic from West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, and Ascension Parishes as well as East Baton Rouge.
Currently about 126,000 cars cross the bridge daily.
For some members of the Capital Area Road and Bridge District, the numbers were shocking to see how much of the traffic issue is local travel.
“I’m not sure they’re going to go away. It may get less but it’ll move it maybe to the other location. But in reality if it does move to the other location that’s still some capacity that you still have within the existing infrastructure,” said Baton Rouge Transportation Director Fred Raiford.
The new bridge, which will be in one of three locations in Iberville Parish, will be able to take 24,000 cars a day. Consultants hope the majority will come from the LA 415 and LA 1 traffic.
“This is what’s adding to your traffic backing up on I-10 is people trying to merge,” said Kara Moree, Project Manager with Atlas Technical Consultants LLC. “Just from LA 415 and LA 1, that’s 62% of the whole bridge volume in the eastbound direction.”
The studies showed that a lot of local traffic uses the interstate like a surface street within the city, which DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said highlights the need for infrastructure improvements.
The next phase of the project is set to proceed, but officials have yet to select a way to pay for the bridge.
“We have to have that outline to even get a signed decision document,” Moree said.
In the last legislative session, lawmakers put forward $300 million for the project, which would be accompanied by some additional federal aid.
Wilson said a toll is most likely to be included on the bridge. At this time, the cost of the toll is uncertain as this, along with the selection of the bridge’s final location, will be studied in this next phase of development.
Officials say that phase should wrap up in the summer of 2024.