The state continues to prioritize projects along major corridors and has reduced Louisiana’s backlog of road and bridge needs by $1.6 billion, from $14 billion to $12.4 billion. The continued investment has helped to create a safer and more efficient highway system for drivers in Louisiana, she said.
Investments made to improve major corridors during 2011 include:
· $79 million on projects to improve I-10
· $32.7 million on projects to improve I-12
· $16.5 million on projects to improve I-20
· $7.1 million on projects to improve I-55
· $3.3 million on projects to improve I-49
With the passage of key legislation to bond I-49 funds and dedicating $73 million in capital outlay this past legislative session, the estimated $622 million I-49 North project is fully-funded from the Arkansas line to I-220 in Shreveport. Nine of the 11 segments are currently in progress for a total of 31 of the 36.25 miles of roadway under construction. To date, the Jindal Administration has invested a total of $325 million in this critical corridor - more than half of the total project cost and well ahead of the federal investment in this road.
In May, DOTD opened the John James Audubon Bridge in St. Francisville to traffic. Completion of the $409 million bridge over the Mississippi River will greatly improve freight and commerce efficiency for major industries including the timber industry and local major businesses like the Big Cajun II plant right next to the bridge in New Roads. It is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere, connects Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana parishes and includes almost 12 miles of new roadways leading up to the bridge.
In September, DOTD marked the completion of the new Interstate 10/Twin Span Bridge across Lake Pontchartrain between the cities of Slidell and New Orleans. This $803 million replacement bridge, one of the largest public works project in the state’s history, was completed on-time and on-budget.
It will improve the quality of life for Louisianans by reducing traffic congestion, improving safety, enhancing mobility for the more than 55,000 drivers who drive it daily and facilitating economic development opportunities. The bridge, previously destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, now stands as a modern, six-lane structure (three eastbound and three westbound travel lanes) - taller, wider and more robust than its predecessor. The mainline sections of the bridge are 21 feet taller than the original structure, making it less vulnerable to a future storm surge.
According to the 2010 INRIX Traffic Congestion Report, traffic congestion in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metro areas has improved due to the continued investment made on major corridors in each area. In the report, Baton Rouge moved from 32nd most-congested metro area to 42nd. The New Orleans metro area’s ranking moved from 35th most-congested to 45th.
Safety on Louisiana’s roadways continues to be a top priority. Through the Destination Zero Deaths initiative, Louisiana has seen a dramatic reduction in traffic fatalities with the unified efforts of the Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, Louisiana State Police, and DOTD working in cooperation with local public works departments and local law enforcement. Fatalities on public roads in Louisiana have decreased from 993 in 2007 to 720 in 2010, a reduction of 30 percent.
In the last year, DOTD has been involved in a number of initiatives designed to increase safety on state roadways. These include:
Centerline Rumble Strips: The installation of centerline rumble strips on over 2,100 miles of state highways will help to reduce head-on collisions by 15 percent.
Constructing roundabouts: Roundabouts are an innovative and cost-effective tool to increase safety, improve traffic flow and enhance the aesthetics of an intersection. Since January 2008, $6.2 million has been invested on roundabout projects.
ITS Cameras: Interstate cameras facilitate better communication among drivers, traffic operations staff and emergency response personnel about roadway conditions. DOTD installed 50 new cameras, bringing the total number installed statewide and available for viewing on DOTD’s website to over 230.
Mile Markers: Emergency responders and regional Incident Management Teams requested installation of enhanced mile markers to improve emergency response times and increase safety by helping motorists to better report accidents, breakdowns, and other roadway incidents.