POSTED: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 6:23pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 6:24pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is trying to cut back on traffic congestion without stepping on any toes.
Small business owners set up near the Perkins Road overpass are worried about bringing up any new discussion that could lead to widening Interstate 10 from the west side of the Mississippi River bridge to the 10-12 split. They say a widening project would shut some of their businesses down.
However, drivers say, if that's what it takes to get rid of the traffic problems, they're all for it.
Norma Palma takes I-10 almost every single day. She says the traffic is a big hassle.
"It's horrible. It's absolutely ridiculous. We need to expand. We need to make a loop. We need to do something," she says.
Palma thinks the best option to clear-up the roads is to expand outward.
"It would be worth it because I think we should be investing long-term into our city and into our people and hopefully have less accidents and a better flowing city," she say.
She's not alone in her thoughts.
"I'm all for widening the roads, expanding, whatever you have to do to make it bigger, make it better, and give us more space," says Danielle Adams.
"Widening the roads would be a great add-on to keep people living here versus going somewhere else because it's more efficient," adds Eunice Strickland.
That's the reason why DOTD is studying that stretch of interstate.
We want to look at ways that we can provide good solutions to improve the corridor, get people to work and back home as quickly as possible, and maintain good momentum," says DOTD Communications Director Jodi Conachen.
The study has stirred up concerns among local people who think the conclusion might be to widen the interstate right over their businesses. Drivers say, why not?
"They can always relocate as much of a pain as that would be," Palma says. "I would hate to see any local business suffer, but this city is only growing and something has to be done."
Conachen says the businesses can rest easy. The state agency is far from making any decisions.
"It is very important that everyone have a voice in this project to make sure that all voices are heard and we get a good final product," she says.
The study is in it's very preliminary stages. Right now, DOTD is gathering data so that they can have something to show residents at public meetings happening later this year. The expect those to start sometime this spring.