BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced a $12 million investment to widen approximately one mile of Essen Lane from Perkins Road to I-10. The project will reduce congestion and improve safety for more than 35,000 motorists who use this segment of Essen Lane every day.
Governor Jindal said, “This $12 million investment to widen Essen Lane represents our continued commitment to improving our roads and infrastructure in the Capital Area and throughout our state. We know how important Essen Lane is to Baton Rouge and the region. The area around Essen is booming and the road is a critical business and medical corridor for folks who live in or travel to Baton Rouge. We need to make sure our roads keep up with our economic growth so that our families have safe roads to travel and businesses have the fastest routes possible to move their products.”
The dollars for the Essen widening project are being shifted from a proposed I-12/Essen Lane interchange project. The original analysis for the I-12/Essen Lane interchange project was based on traffic data from the 1990s. Since that time, traffic patterns and volumes have changed significantly. Additionally, other road projects that the Jindal Administration has invested in, along I-10 and I-12 and at the interchange of I-10 and Essen, have improved traffic flow in the area. For these reasons, DOTD engineers are going to reexamine the best course of action for the I-12/Essen Lane interchange project.
Essen Lane is undergoing significant development driven mainly by the expansion at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center (OLOL). In 2010, Governor Jindal announced a transformational public-private partnership between LSU and OLOL that will enhance graduate medical education for Louisiana’s doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals and provide Baton Rouge’s first ever Level 1 Trauma Center.
In order to move the money to the Essen widening project, DOTD must submit an application for capital outlay scope change for consideration by the Interim Emergency Board (IEB). This document is being submitted to the IEB today. Once the IEB meeting is held, ballots will be sent to legislators within 3 days. Legislators will then have 17 days to respond. Once that process is complete, DOTD will conduct an environmental study, engineering and design work, and acquire right of way to move forward with the project. DOTD expects bids to be accepted on this project by the summer of 2014.
Today’s announcement follows other major investments the Jindal Administration has made in the Capital Area. To further enhance economic development and improve safety, the administration has invested $315 million in projects to widen the I-10/I-12 corridor in the Capital Area, including:
$110 million to widen I-12 from Pete’s Highway to O’Neal Lane
$86.2 million to widen I-10 from the I-10/I-12 split to Siegen Lane
$60 million to widen I-10 from Siegen Lane to Highland Road
$36.2 million to widen I-12 from Pete’s Highway to Juban Road
$21.9 million to widen I-12 from Juban Road to Walker
"I commend Governor Jindal for supporting our businesses and medical industry and moving funding into place to enhance this vital corridor for Baton Rouge," said Representative Steve Carter. “With the 35,000 plus motorists that travel Essen Lane each day, this project will reduce congestion and increase safety.”
“When Our Lady of the Lake moved to Essen Lane nearly 35 years ago, the community believed we were moving out to the country. Now today Essen Lane is a major roadway providing crucial access to the medical corridor in Baton Rouge,” said Scott Wester, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center’s Chief Executive Officer. “On behalf of the 350,000 patients we treat annually, our 5,000 team members, and physicians who practice here and in nearby clinics, I would like to thank Governor Jindal for his support in improving infrastructure in this area.”
“This improvement project will help provide the Capitol Area with much needed relief resulting from this area’s continued growth,” said Senator Dan Claitor.
“This project will provide easier access to Essen Lane for drivers traveling on I-12 and I-10, enhancing access to a critical medical corridor,” said Representative Franklin Foil.
Since taking office, the Jindal Administration has made transportation and infrastructure projects a top priority by investing an unprecedented $4.6 billion in Louisiana’s infrastructure. This investment has funded 1,800 transportation system improvement projects, including roughly 4,000 miles of roadway and 446 bridges.