Congestion & Mobility
LA 1 is the only arterial highway which runs north-south along the eastern edge of the west bank in Iberville and West Baton Rouge Parishes. Due to its proximity to the Mississippi River and the State’s capitol city, Baton Rouge, these parishes are desirable for industrial, agricultural and residential site locations. LA 1 provides direct access to I-10, which is the only Interstate Highway in either parish. This access, provided by an interchange located on the west approach to the I-10 Horace Wilkinson Bridge, is critical to mobility of goods and people to and from the west side of the Mississippi River.
The traffic volumes on LA 1 at I-10 are extremely high, increasing, and indicative of heavy congestion.
(As shown in Table 1.1)
A new bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Iberville Parish out performs all other studied bridge locations – both tolled and un-tolled in regional congestion reduction and efficiency.
A new bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Iberville Parish will have a Regional Congestion Reduction of 1,453,398 hours.
Estimated Cost for a new Mississippi River bridge crossing in Iberville Parish is projected to be $1.4 billion. This price includes the widening of LA 30 in Iberville and Ascension Parishes.
New bridge location has been studied to begin at Mississippi River Mile 203, south of Plaquemine and end on LA 30 in St. Gabriel in Iberville Parish.
Iberville and Ascension Parishes are the only two parishes between New Orleans and Pointe Coupee that are not serviced with a bridge, but yet have the most industry present.
Table 1.1: LA 1 Estimated Average Daily Traffic (ADT, Vehicles per Day)
At such a critical juncture of the two highways, it is clear that traffic volumes exceed capacity for the existing interchange and are much worse during peak hours. Better mobility would alleviate this problem. However, the Mississippi River, while providing the impetus for growth in the region, is a formidable barrier to increased mobility. Downstream from the I-10 Bridge, the next crossing is a ferry located in Plaquemine about 12 miles south.
Depending on the time of day, weather conditions and origin/destination, the ferry may provide a viable, though very limited, option to accessing the I-10 Bridge. However, connectivity via this mode of travel is hardly efficient for goods and services which are in need of traversing the river.
The next downstream bridge crossing the river is at LA 70 near Donaldsonville, which is about 37 miles south of the I-10 Bridge. This bridge connects to I-10 fairly efficiently along LA 70 and LA 22 on the east bank. However, the nature of the configuration of LA 1 between the bridges is that it traverses several communities in between – Brusly, Addis, Plaquemine, White Castle and Donaldsonville – and contains many traffic signals. The 37-mile distance, even with good traffic conditions, can easily take an hour to traverse.
Iberville Parish is located geographically straddling both sides of the Mississippi River. The only direct connection between the two portions of the Parish is the Plaquemine Ferry. At present, DOTD maintains two ferries at this crossing. The operations of the ferry are heavily reliant on weather and maintenance. The ferry does not operate where fog on the river would decrease visibility and increase the risk of collision with both ocean-going ships and barge traffic. Also, the ferry operation is expensive and fares do not pay for the full cost maintaining and running the ferry. When maintenance problems arise, the crossing would be reduced to a single ferry and dramatically increase crossing times, which with the best of conditions can be an hour or more. Iberville Parish government needs to be able to provide service to its constituents and citizenry in a more efficient manner, one in which only a direct bridge connection can be useful in providing. (Source: DOTD Website (www.dotd.la.gov), Traffic Counts, State-maintained Roadways)