I-12 widening proposal unveiled at public meeting

The state wants to expand both directions of the interstate to three lanes a piece, from Highway 21 to Highway 59. The new lanes will be added in the place of the current grass median, with a concrete barrier separating east and west bound. The bridges

COVINGTON --  The entrance ramp to get onto I-12 westbound from Highway 190 in the Mandeville-Covington area inspires anger like no other.

"Absolutely frustrated," said Thomas Mule.

"I ask myself why," said Pam Rossi.

"I try to avoid it," said Jim Moreau.

It's the same experience traveling toward Highways 190 and 59 from Highway 21.

"There is absolutely no reason why we need to slow down just to go over a bridge," Mule said. "And it's every, any time of day. It does not matter. It's always congested and there's no getting around it."

Since the cause is rarely a crash, people attribute the crowded section of roadway to the up-and-coming areas alongside it.

"This parish has grown exponentially since I moved over here 36 years ago from New Orleans and it's expensive to keep up with the growth," Moreau said.

"Where is all the planning?" asked Rossi. "We have had development in place here for 20 years. I've been here that long and I've seen it grow and grow, but the infrastructure hasn't grown."

The Department of Transportation and Development is now answering with a proposed widening project.

The state wants to expand both directions of the interstate to three lanes a piece, from Highway 21 to Highway 59.  The new lanes will be added in the place of the current grass median, with a concrete barrier separating east and west bound.  The bridges will be expanded as well.

But an extra fourth lane will be added between 21 and 190 for easy travel just between those two entrances and exits.

"I think that's fabulous, it's about time," Rossi said.

"The way that Covington is building up in that area, and that part of the parish is building up, with all the small business and with the hospital expanding, it's very important to do that," Moreau said.

"Very hopeful," Mule said. "We'll see if it works, but at least it's a step in the right direction."

There's no official start date for this project because funding is still pending.  But whenever it does start, engineers expect construction to last two years.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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