Baton Rouge’s traffic problem is much like the weather, everybody talks about it but no one does anything about it. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The worst part of the problem is the routing of Interstate 10/12 traffic through the city. Part of the problem has been eased by providing a dedicated traffic lane for the eastbound I-10 traffic. There is also discouragement, as the solution required only paint on the pavement and it took two years to implement once the idea surfaced. Widening I-12 and the coming widening of I-10 will help for a time when there are no nonroutine events. The leaking tanker incident and Hurricane Isaac have reminded Baton Rouge residents that there is a serious flaw in the city’s traffic plan: there is only one way in and one way out.
Baton Rouge needs a half-circle south loop, similar to the ones in Shreveport and Lake Charles, that will take the traffic connecting to/from New Orleans on I-10 and points east on I-12 out of the city. The loop should start at I-10 on the west side of the Mississippi River and curve south to connect with I-10 south of Baton Rouge and then to I-12 east of Denham Springs.
The optimal routing is to come off I-10 in the area of La. 415 and continuing south to the point where it would cross the Mississippi River near Addis and continue on to connect with I-10 south of Baton Rouge in the vicinity of the parish line. The loop should then be routed eastward and connect to I-12 east of Denham Springs. This results in the shortest route available and it is attractive to trucks, which will use it instead of sitting in traffic in the center of Baton Rouge whether they are connecting to New Orleans on I-10 or east on I-12.
Alternatives to the suggestions have come forward that are less comprehensive and are based on perceived cost and political considerations. These are partial solutions to solving the whole problem. Even if effective, it would provide no relief for New Orleans-bound traffic.
The cost of a new bridge crossing the Mississippi River is cited as making a new south loop impossible. A new bridge crossing at St. Francisville has already been constructed. Major benefits from a south loop are numerous. They include improved traffic flow and reduced travel times. There would be reduced gasoline consumption and automobile-linked air pollution.
Is it possible to solve a problem in Louisiana by a cause-and-effect and cost/benefit analysis for the benefit of citizens? This answer also determines whether we can be a new Louisiana or remain the old Louisiana that is the laughingstock of the country.
retIred chemical engineer/stock trader