Did Jindal’s People Know About This?

Yesterday, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony at which Gov. Bobby Jindal celebrated the long-awaited completion of the I-12 widening project between Baton Rouge and Denham Springs – which if you have the misfortune of having to drive on during rush hour is historically one of the most clogged and dreadful stretches of roadway in the state.

Governor Bobby Jindal marked the completion today of two projects to widen I-12 from four to six lanes from O’Neal Lane in Baton Rouge to Juban Road in Denham Springs. The two projects total $146 million and widen 5.2 miles of I-12 for more than 85,000 drivers who use this area of I-12 every day. These segments are the first two projects completed in the state’s Geaux Wider program to upgrade the I-10 and I-12 corridors.

Governor Jindal said, “The Capital area is booming and it’s critical for our infrastructure to keep up with the growth. The completion of these projects is a major step forward to help speed up commutes for area residents, make this region more attractive for businesses that want to invest and create jobs, and most importantly, make our roads safer for Louisiana families.”

The first project cost $110 million and widens I-12 eastbound from two to three lanes between O’Neal Lane to just east of Pete’s Highway and I-12 westbound from O’Neal Lane to west of 4-H Club Road. Work on this 3.1-mile project began in April 2009.

The second project cost $36.2 million and widens I-12 eastbound from Pete’s Highway to Juban Road and I-12 westbound from Juban Road to east of 4-Club Road. Work on this 2.1 mile project began in August 2010.

The Governor also highlighted additional projects to widen I-10 and I-12. On I-10, two Geaux Wider projects are currently underway that will widen the highway to six lanes between the I-10/12 junction and Highland Road.

Late last year, the Governor broke ground on a $21.9 million widening project between Juban Road and Walker. The project is slated for completion in mid 2013. Governor Jindal said the state is also using $14.5 million in combination with a an I-12 bridge federal rehabilitation project, to widen I-12 from two to three lanes from the Walker Interchange approximately two to three miles east towards Satsuma. As part of the state’s Geaux Wider program, Governor Jindal has invested nearly $260 million to upgrade the I-12 corridor.

Since taking office in 2008, the Jindal administration has invested an unprecedented $4.1 billion for transportation projects throughout Louisiana. Additionally, since 2008, the Jindal administration has invested nearly $240 million for transportation projects in Livingston Parish and nearly $400 million for transportation projects in East Baton Rouge Parish.

“We are pleased to celebrate this important milestone for our state under the Geaux Wider program. Six new lanes of interstate will provide much-needed congestion relief and a tremendous safety benefit to the 85,000 motorists traveling this segment daily,” said DOTD Secretary LeBas.

“We are thankful a major portion of this project is complete and for Governor Jindal’s dedication to improving our area. We look forward to celebrating additional lanes all the way to Satsuma,” said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.

Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin said, “I look forward to seeing congestion relief for our residents, especially in their morning and afternoon commutes.”

Anita Bumgarner, Bass Pro Shops retail manager, said, “The improvements to I-12 eastbound will provide encouragement for consumers to cross from East Baton Rouge to Livingston Parish and take advantage of the great retail establishments in our parish.”

Mitch Wasden, Ochsner Medical Center CEO, said “Our 140-bed hospital is directly impacted by I-12. The widening of the interstate will improve travel times to the hospital not only for patients in need of urgent care, but also for our nearly 1,200 employees.”

It’s fantastic news, and Jindal ought to mark it with a ribbon-cutting.

But today, WAFB reported it ain’t over for the beleaguered and benumbed commuters on I-12…

Tuesday – Friday: 8 p.m. – 5 a.m.

Left lane closed in both directions between Juban Road & Walker to install temporary concrete barriers (Florida Blvd. is a good alternate around the nightly closures)

Wednesday: 8 p.m. – 5 a.m.

O’Neal Lane CLOSED at I-12 (All on-and off-ramps will be open, but traffic will not be allowed to pass under the bridge)

Westbound left lane closed between the Amite River Bridge and O’Neal Lane for permanent lane striping

Eastbound left lane closed between O’Neal Lane & the Amite River Bridge for permanent lane striping

Wednesday: 9 p.m. – 4 a.m.

Eastbound I-12 reduced to two lanes by closing the right lane for one mile beginning at MM 3.7 in East Baton Rouge Parish to install support structures for Dynamic Message Signs

Westbound I-12 reduced to two lanes by closing the right lane for one mile beginning at MM 5.9 in East Baton Rouge Parish to install support structures for Dynamic Message Signs

Thursday – Saturday: 8 p.m. – 5 a.m.

Eastbound left lane closed between O’Neal Lane & the Amite River Bridge for permanent lane striping

Which means this week I-12 commuters who saw the ribbon-cutting on TV and thought the ordeal was over are going to be a little disappointed. And Jindal probably gets blame for it.

For example, from the Baton Rouge Advocate’s article on the ribbon-cutting, some comments…

1) Comment by redavaw1 – 06/12/2012
I already chewed on the “powers that be” who allowed the interstate at O’Neal to be closed down to 1 lane yesterday! Believe me, it will be a cold day before that happens again. At least that is what DOTD says! Let’s let bygones be bygones and BASK in the GLORY OF THE 6 LANES OF INTERSTATE!!!!!!!! WHOO HOO!! I drove to work this morning and home this afternoon without so much as hitting my brakes! You can’t ask for anything better than that. P.S. I think Jindle owes an apology for that photo op!! at the expense of everyone in Livingston Parish. “SA-LUTE!!”

2) Comment by BRmoderate – 06/12/2012
great, cant wait to see the news article on the third lane’s lack of impact on travel times

3) Comment by jdk944 – 06/12/2012
So is this the reason they had I-12 down to 1 lane eastbound during rush hour last night, so they could do a PHOTO OP today?? Just amazing!! As Bill Engvall says, “Here is your sign”!!

An error? Not a large one. But it might have been nice to wait a week on that ribbon-cutting so all the paint could dry.

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