LSU game forces haste in efforts
Rainy weather, downed traffic lights from Hurricane Isaac and interstate closures created traffic snarls across Baton Rouge on Friday that officials were hoping to have untangled before the rush expected for the LSU Tigers' home opener against North Texas on Saturday.
To view a PDF of parking at LSU, look under Related Document to the right of this story and Click on PDF: Tiger Stadium Parking for Sept. 1.
Mayor-President Kip Holden on Friday urged people to continue to stay off the streets if possible.
An 18-wheeler overturned in the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 near the I-110 split Friday morning, snarling traffic and closing at least two interstate ramps until about 3 p.m. And in Ascension Parish, the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 were closed at Sorrento because of rising waters.
Airline Highway was also closed in both directions from La. 22 in Sorrento to La. 641 in St. James Parish.
Sorrento Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. said his department was "getting slammed with traffic" as drivers were forced to exit Interstate 10 after water flooded the road.
"We're handling it, but it's bad," Theriot said.
He said fire trucks were pumping "water from one side of the road to the other" along Main Street in an effort to prevent water from flooding homes.
Theriot said that while no Sorrento residents had reported water in their houses, "we're pumping water from one side of town to the other to prevent flooding."
It's unclear whether the interstate would reopen Saturday.
Holden said the interstate problems, coupled with the parishwide road closures and traffic signal outages, created traffic problems throughout the region on Friday.
"All of this is making traffic on our streets very heavy," Holden said. "Have patience as people are traveling."
William Daniel, chief administrative officer to Holden, said Friday evening that 87 percent of traffic lights were back up, and crews would continue working until about 10 p.m.
Most of the traffic light outages were the result of no power.
Daniel said generators were brought in at some intersections to supply power and mitigate traffic problems.
Daniel said Baton Rouge police, sheriff's deputies and Louisiana State Police were stationed at some intersections throughout the day to help direct traffic at intersections lacking power.
David Guillory, interim public works director for East Baton Rouge, said Friday afternoon that 80 percent of road blockages had been cleared. The remaining downed trees had hot power lines on them but would likely be cleared by the end of the day, Guillory said.
Traffic was so bad Friday that it slowed Entergy's ability to restore power to the capital region.
"The rain is hampering us and the traffic," she said. "Everyone is out on the roads."
Daniel said the main arteries from the interstate to LSU have been cleared and their traffic lights have been repaired. But he said drivers can still expect some delays when trying to reach Tiger Stadium for Saturday's game.
"This will be like any other football game event with a lot of traffic, but it will be compounded by the road closures and traffic signal outages," Daniel said. "Everybody is going to get to where they're going, but it may take a little longer."
LSU announced that several parking lots will be closed because of water saturation or evacuation activities. Traffic lights at several key intersections leading to the stadium were still out as of Friday night.
LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the university will rely on campus police, sheriff's deputies, constables, city police and private security to provide a law enforcement presence during the game. He said the game is likely to draw fewer people than usual because of the storm issues.
"This will probably be a smaller crowd than it normally would be for a season opener," Vincent said.
The lingering impact of Hurricane Isaac also means state troopers' presence will be diminished during the game.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said Friday that State Police are supplementing storm response efforts in five parishes and in Mississippi. Some troopers are working double shifts and all leave time was canceled, he said.
Normally, State Police provide 50 to 80 troopers for home games at Tiger Stadium. Only 15 troopers will be on hand to help with security Saturday, Edmonson said.
State Police also perform a bomb sweep and search the stadium prior to the game starting.
Michelle Milhollon of The Advocate's Capitol news bureau and River Parishes bureau reporter Darlene Denstorff contributed to this report.