BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development is taking several emergency measures to improve Baton Rouge’s dire traffic conditions, which are a result of thousands of New Orleans-area evacuees moving into the capital city, DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said Sunday.
Specific steps that will be effective for Monday morning rush hour to lessen traffic congestion include:
extended green time on major state routes
traffic control improvements such as removing traffic signals and restricting left-hand turns from major routes
increased Motorist Assistance Patrol (MAP) operations, including a MAP tow truck to remove disabled vehicles from Interstate 12 at the Amite River
20 additional variable message board signs, courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation
DOTD also is consulting with the East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works to investigate other ways to improve traffic, including reversing some lanes of traffic on certain routes. DOTD traffic engineers will begin studying traffic counts on Florida Street, from I-110 to Foster Drive, on Monday. If needed, DOTD crews are prepared to re-stripe the four-laned road to accommodate three lanes going downtown in the morning and three lanes going east in the afternoon.
“Anyone driving in Baton Rouge during the last 10 days knows what has happened to traffic,” Bradberry said. “Our infrastructure could not adequately handle the pre-Katrina congestion, and now our road system is clearly being utilized beyond its capabilities. We are taking these immediate steps to give drivers some relief until we can work with local and federal officials on more long-term solutions.”
Crews from DOTD districts in Lake Charles, Lafayette and Baton Rouge and from the East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works adjusted traffic signals over the weekend to double the amount of time the lights are on green on La. 30, Airline Highway, Government Street, Florida Boulevard, Highland Road, Perkins Road, Old Hammond Highway, Burbank Drive, Greenwell Springs Road, Hooper/Wax roads, La. 1, La. 415 and La. 431.
DOTD also has removed traffic signals and is restricting left-hand turns on Airline at Hammond-Aire, Commonwealth, Professional and Pecue, and on Florida at Cloud, Cora, Marilyn and Harco.
To assist drivers whose cars are disabled, DOTD is now running three MAP patrol vans 16 hours a day on I-10, I-110 and I-12. MAP gets disabled vehicles back on the road as quickly as possible by giving drivers a gallon of gas; changing a flat tire; jump starting a car; filling a radiator with water; and giving drivers the use of a cell phone to make a local call for more assistance. MAP is funded by DOTD and does not charge drivers for its services.
DOTD also will place portable message board signs at strategic routes to help drivers with alternate routes. DOTD also has seven permanent message signs along I-10, I-12 and I-110 to give drivers information and updates on changing traffic conditions.