DOTD officials say vehicle speeds up more than 35 mph
Vehicle speeds have increased significantly as a result of the new lanes opened on Interstate 12 between O’Neal Lane and Juban Road, officials with the state Department of Transportation and Development report.
The speed of eastbound traffic from Baton Rouge to Denham Springs during the peak period Tuesday afternoon increased more than 35 mph compared with the previous Tuesday, officials said Wednesday.
Data gathered by the department’s traffic management center showed that last week, eastbound traffic on that route moved at speeds of 10 mph to 35 mph during the peak period on that Tuesday afternoon.
Monday morning, westbound traffic headed from Denham Springs to Baton Rouge moved at speeds of about 55 mph compared with 25 mph to 30 mph the previous Monday morning, said Jodi Conachen, communications director for DOTD.
DOTD opened third lanes in each direction this week after completion of a pair of widening projects.
The $146 million addition of third lanes between Juban Road and O’Neal Lane ends an eastbound bottleneck at O’Neal that slowed afternoon traffic going from Baton Rouge to Livingston Parish.
“The projects to widen I-12 were designed to help drivers get where they need to be as efficiently and safely as possible, and we’re excited to see immediate results,” said DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas.
She said 85,000 motorists travel that segment of I-12 daily.
So far, DOTD has not seen additional traffic on that stretch of I-12, but does expect more drivers would start to use the interstate as they become aware “that it is free-flowing,” Conachen said Wednesday afternoon.
“We are tracking that,” she said.
Work continues on two other projects to extend I-12’s six-lane segment to the east past Walker.
One is a $21.9 million widening project between Juban Road at Denham Springs and Walker. The project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013.
Another project will widen I-12 from two to three lanes past Walker for two to three miles east toward Satsuma.
The piecemeal projects would result in widening I-12 from four to six lanes from O’Neal Lane past Walker, as far as money set aside for the project would allow.