CRISIS hailed the announcement by Governor John Bel Edwards and Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson that the state has identified funding and will expedite construction to widen I-10 between Highland Road in East Baton Rouge and LA 73 in Ascension Parish.
The announcement follows the release by CRISIS earlier this year of an analysis of major regional transportation infrastructure projects, which found that a longer version of the project (stretching to LA 22) would provide the most congestion relief for the dollar.
Robert Burgess, President and CEO of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Ascension, and member of CRISIS leadership, said: “We are thrilled with the governor’s decision to invest additional transportation dollars into this vital commuter corridor, and in the design-build process that will allow this project to proceed as quickly as possible. While I-10 widening does need to be extended beyond LA 73, this project will provide an enormous benefit to the Capital Region. This decision also represents the kind of data-based transportation decision-making that CRISIS has long advocated for. In the regional projects comparison commissioned by CRISIS, this project provided far and away the most congestion relief benefit for the dollar. We are looking forward to hosting the governor’s transportation task force in October, where we can place additional focus on the rest of the Capital Region’s urgent infrastructure needs.”
Commissioned by CRISIS, the analysis was led by Capital Region Planning Commission (CRPC) Executive Director Jamie Setze and the CRPC’s transportation planners, in an effort to begin to forge regional consensus based on data-driven solutions.
To conduct the analysis, a team of CRISIS representatives, parish presidents or their representatives, legislators, and CRPC staff identified projects with regional significance for analysis, with consideration given to all regional projects in the State Long Range Plan. Then, 18 major transportation projects were analyzed using a regional transportation model for comparative analysis. Key metrics used included each project’s projected reduction in regional Vehicle Hours of Travel (VHT), along with “best available” cost estimates done in conjunction with DOTD, to arrive at ratios of “congestion relief for the cost” derived for comparison.
Projects were also compared based on groupings among four different categories, based on whether they were a new Mississippi River crossing, a large regional project, a small regional project, or addressed the region’s “urban core.”
General findings of the analysis concluded that:
· Multiple projects are needed for regional congestion relief
· Highest benefit projects involve crossing the Mississippi River (New bridge and increased use of old bridge)
· Best benefit/cost projects involve improving commute to Ascension Parish and one additional lane in both directions of I-10 through Baton Rouge
· Tolling can be a part of broader funding strategy – with project tolling revenue projections ranging from 25% to 60% of project cost
Based on the analysis and findings, a recommended Regional Solution would consist of the following project priorities:
- I-10 Widening (one lane in both directions) Through Baton Rouge
- Ascension Commuter Route (I-10 to LA 22)
- New River Crossing South of I-10 Bridge (With LA 30 Widening)
- Increase Use of US 190 Bridge (BUMP or North Bypass)
The full presentation of the analysis report can be found online by clicking here.