BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office is claiming that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) isn’t being upfront about plans for lane closures on I-10 during construction.

In a letter sent the day before Veterans Day, DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson responded to Landry’s demands for transparency regarding construction plans for I-10.

The attorney general raised questions regarding I-10 construction plans in early November, claiming that DOTD seems to have never taken certain aspects of lane reduction into consideration.

Wilson said the interstate in Baton Rouge is the sole city in the country where it reduces to one lane, and goes on to say problems have worsened after facing pushback from “political and community” pressures.

“Project improvements to this corridor have been evaluated by multiple administrations, but political and community pressure prevented advancement of design and construction activity, only to see problems escalate,” he said.

Construction to improve and expand I-10 is necessary although there will be “temporary inconveniences,” said Wilson.

Wilson’s letter said since August 2015, DOTD has met with residents, businesses, and elected officials about I-10 improvement planning, including 11 required public meetings, a public survey that received almost 14,000 responses, and telephone surveys.

Plans for interstate construction were broken down by Wilson in two phases:

“Phase I includes west of Washington Street to Essen Lane on I-10 and I-12, and Phase II includes LA 415 to west of Washington Street. Phase I is further divided into segments. Segment 1, the first construction segment, includes west of Washington Street to Acadian Thruway, including the Acadian Thruway interchange. Project components that are currently underway include the College Drive flyover, the KCS Railroad Bridge replacement at Acadian Thruway (Valley Street), and I-10 BR Segment 1.”

Wilson clarifies Landry’s concerns about interstate lanes being reduced in his letter, stating that design plans outline two lanes in each direction on the three-mile section of I-10 in a 12 to 14-month period. He said the I-10 westbound flyover onto the Mississippi River Bridge may be reduced temporarily from two lanes to one for 1,200 feet.

“Inconveniences from these construction and traffic management activities will exist, but these activities will contribute to a greatly decreased construction duration which benefits travelers, residents, and businesses in the vicinity of the project,” said Wilson.

As construction takes place there will be mitigation measures placed and diversion routes, although it “admittedly may not be ideal” for drivers. Wilson adds that an incident management plan is being developed with law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

Per Landry’s office’s public records request, Wilson said DOTD has submitted design and contractor contracts and will submit 7,000 pages of engineering analysis and evaluations with another 1,000 pages of files.

Read Wilson’s full letter below:

The attorney general’s office responded to DOTD on Monday, Nov. 21 after a Friday, Nov. 18 meeting. In its letter, Landry’s office said DOTD confirmed that I-10 will be reduced to one lane in either direction for 14 months while reducing lanes on I-110 during the same time.

“While it was anticipated that the evaluations and analyses requested in my November 10, 2022 correspondence would be provided at last week’s meeting, such information was not forthcoming,” Landry’s Nov. 21 letter said. “Instead, your staff provided partial copies of contract documents that omitted the particular provisions most relevant to the matter at hand. Moreover, LA DOTD’s representatives tacitly conceded the absence of any documentation demonstrating the department’s consideration of the social and economic impacts that will inevitably result from the planned lane closures, indicating that LA DOTD now intends to reevaluate its approach given limitations in the project’s existing environmental approvals.”

Read the full Nov. 21 letter below:

Interstate project information can be found online at i10br.com.

To read Landry’s original letter to DOTD, click here.