Road work ‘on schedule’

Officials: Florida Boulevard work to be completed by fall of 2013

Work on a 2.6-mile stretch on Florida Boulevard between North Foster Drive and Airline Highway in Baton Rouge is scheduled to be completed by next fall, later than earlier projections, state transportation officials said Monday.

“We are still on schedule,” said Lauren Lee, a Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman.

In September, a representative of Gilchrist Construction Co., the Alexandria firm handling the work, told the Mid-City Merchants group that the work should be completed by mid-2013.

Lee said she had never heard the mid-2013 estimate, and believed the project was on its original schedule.

Soil under Florida Boulevard was softer than first thought, Lee said, which caused some modifications to the work but no schedule changes.

The $8.5 million project to resurface the stretch of one of the city’s major arteries involves removing asphalt surface and the concrete that lies under it. The project began in September.

Once the road is stripped to the gravel, up to six inches of asphalt will be laid, creating a surface officials have said would be “like glass.”

Most of the work is being done at night, with lanes closed between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weeknights.

Local business owners said the work was welcomed.

“Things are mostly happening at night, so it’s just a slightly bumpy road is all,” said Laurie Chapple, board president for the Mid-City Merchants. “So far so good on our end.”

Chapple said she has not heard of any businesses being adversely affected by the ongoing project.

Coleman Brown, an architect whose office is on Florida Boulevard, said Gilchrist has been helping to keep businesses in the area apprised of the progress of the project.

“They have been keeping us updated with phone calls,” said Brown, who said he then emails other Mid-City Merchants. “Communications wise, everything couldn’t be better.”

Workers are focusing on the east-bound lanes this week, Lee said. Each night, motorists can expect two lanes to be closed with one left open for traffic, she said.

No detours or vehicle restrictions are required, Lee said.

DOTD does not plan to close all three lanes of traffic in either direction at any point, Lee said.

Todd Donmyer, a project engineer for DOTD, has said about 40,000 cars and trucks use the road daily.