Extra patience required now
Next week the dreadful process of repairing the Interstate 210 bridge begins, likely creating a traffic nightmare that’s not going away anytime soon.
The estimated yearlong project begins Monday and drivers are advised to use local routes whenever possible and avoid the bridge, unless necessary.
“It’s important that citizens recognize this will create traffic challenges for the area,” city administrator John Cardone told the American Press.
Starting in the first phase of work, the eastbound and westbound lanes will be reduced to one lane. Both westbound lanes will be closed at night, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
State Department of Transportation and Development officials said the lane closures are necessary to give the contractor enough space to work on the bridge.
Repairs include redecking the bridge’s 930-foot main span; building inspection walkways underneath the bridge; improving barrier rail safety; and installing lighting.
Tammy York, public information officer for DOTD District 7, said traffic delays are expected throughout the project’s duration and especially during the first 10 days of work. Slowdowns are anticipated as drivers take different routes during morning and afternoon commutes.
Alternate routes include La. 109, La. 27, U.S. 171, U.S. 190, and U.S. 165 to access La. 12.
A traffic advisory system will provide drivers on Interstates 10 and 210 with real-time information through message boards and flashing signs. Also, Motorist Assistance Patrol coverage will be increased to three units during the day and two units at night. Oversized loads will be not be allowed to travel in the construction zone.
Drivers can also get traffic alerts on their smartphone by downloading the 511 app or visiting 511la.org. Out-of-state drivers can call 800-762-3511 to get up-to-date traffic information.
Cardone said the city has spent the last several months meeting with DOTD, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and other cities to discuss the impact of the I-210 bridge project.
“It’s a state project, so it falls under their guidance and regulation, but they do know it’s going to impact people on both sides of the bridge,” Cardone said.
Incoming Police Chief Shawn Caldwell said more officers will be working the I-210 corridor, along with feeder roads, such as Nelson and Prien Lake roads, and Ryan and Lake streets. He said officers will assist in making traffic run as smoothly as possible.
“Our goal is to make sure with all this work, at least we can manage it and make it safe,” Cardone said.
When you’re behind the wheel, be sure that driving is your top priority. It’s an inherently dangerous task that requires your full attention.
Text messages, phone calls and other tasks can wait. Please drive carefully during this project to ensure you reach your destination safely — and that others do, too.