Lighter traffic allowing crews to tackle more road projects in capital area
April 15, 2020
BATON ROUGE – Rush hour traffic on a pre-coronavirus day at Perkins Road would usually be bumper-to-bumper. Add in road work, and you probably wouldn’t make it home in time for dinner.
But with the stay-at-home order in place, Baton Rouge traffic has essentially disappeared.
“We’re seeing far too many people still moving around considering the stay-at-home order, but traffic and congestion has reduced drastically,” DOTD Sec. Shawn Wilson said.
DOTD is taking advantage of this new normal, getting much needed road work projects out of the way.
“Since the COVID-19 crisis began, we’ve actually awarded about 40 projects worth over $300 million total,” he said.
That includes fixing the lumps and bumps on Perkins and work on old projects like the Government Street diet and I-10 expansion near Highland.
“When traffic is lower, it actually allows for us to be more productive. It reduced the risk of accidents as we prepare for work zone safety awareness week next week,” Wilson said. “And so we’ve had great weather, and construction teams have done a really good job of being productive out on those sites.”
It also allows crews to get more work done during the daylight hours.
“A good example of another benefit of the reduced traffic is the extension of lane closures because of the demand. A number of projects that would normally be working at night are making more progress in the day time and reducing lane closures because the vehicles are traveling less.”
But Wilson says there have been speed bumps on certain projects. Because of the stay-at-home-order, Wilson granted people the option to stop working.
“We’ve seen about 20 projects interrupt their work schedules, which is their prerogative. It will grant them additional time. It will not cost us additional money,”
The work on Perkins from S. Acadian to Essen is being done by DOTD in order to transfer the road to the city. There’s no official timeline on completion, but city officials estimate it could take at least 90 days.