DOTD announces I-10 widening project

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
State and local officials "break ground" for the latest DOTD project to benefit residents of Ascension Parish.

Public officials including Gov. Edwards, State Senator Eddie Lambert, State Representative Tony Bacala and Parish President Kenny Matassa gathered on Thursday, January 11 to "break ground" on a much needed I-10 widening project between Highland Road in Baton Rouge to LA 73 in Prairieville.

The $72 million project is being funded by a combination of federal and state funds, including use of over $40 million in congressionally authorized repurposed earmarks, according to a DOTD media release.

Interstate 10, notoriously known for bottlenecking between the two exits will grow from two to three lanes on both sides of the interstate.

"We are pleased to be breaking ground on this much-needed expansion of I-10,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. "Over 95,000 motorists travel this segment of I-10 every day, and the new lanes will help to increase safety and reduce travel times. This project has major benefits to the state and is another step in improving our residents’ quality of life."

But don't expect the project to be done overnight, or even within one year. DOTD gives it a 2.5 year timeframe. This will be a major overhaul to complete without slowing traffic more than it already is.

"I went to a meeting over two years at LSU to discuss the bottlenecks and what could be done, and the number one project was this corridor right here," President Matassa said. "That's pretty fast to get it started and funded. Hopefully Highway 30 will get some attention after this."

Matassa added that many people who work in Baton Rouge live in Prairieville, so he gets calls about the bottleneck regularly.

"It's a great thing for the citizens of Ascension," he said. "This is the second big project announced for Ascension recently. 42 and then this. It's like Christmas comes early again."

State Representative Tony Bacala said the portion of the project (about half) in Prairieville is in his district. He said that while it will take some time to complete, that it is on the "fast track."

"Some work at the Bluff Road overpass and some work at the Highland Road overpass will make things a little different than just flowing down lanes of traffic, but certainly trying to get the best case balance between the speed of the project moving forward and not disrupting traffic anymore than is absolutely necessary," Rep. Bacala said.

Ascension Parish Councilman Daniel "Doc" Satterlee was in attendance. His constituency is also represented in the widening project. Although this is obviously a state project, "Doc" noted the importance of a team effort to get this done.

"While we may be background players, we talk to them all the time," Satterlee said. "Everybody, frankly, has their hand out. And as the governor said they only have limited money. But they prioritize things, and this squeaky wheel got the grease."

James Construction Group, LLC, was the successful bidder on the project.