Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- In an effort to ease traffic congestion and safety concerns, the Pontchartrain Expressway is gearing up for some major upgrades.

State transportation officials held an open house Tuesday night at the Salvation Army on Claiborne Avenue to talk about the projects, including what will happen to the old Crescent City Connection toll plaza.

'We're trying to improve the corridor as a whole, and it's going to take more than just one thing to improve it,' said Tim Nickel, a Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development project manager.

When rush hour traffic suddenly appears in the morning or at night drivers on the Ponchartrain Expressway near the Superdome can tell you, the commute is well, slow going. State transportation officials are trying to change that.

'Right now, we have approximately four projects scheduled to come up,' said Nickel.

The first project is at the US 90 on-ramp at Claiborne Avenue. Transportation officials say it is being elevated, extended and a third interstate lane will be added to make merging traffic less dangerous.

The second is re-striping on the Expressway from Ames Boulevard on the West Bank to I-10.

Crews are also tackling the old Crescent City Connection toll plaza where drivers currently experience a major bottle-neck.

'We have the 12-lanes right now with the toll booths. That's going to be removed and then the 12 lanes are going to go back to four lanes. That's going to be a feat in its own,' Nickel said.

Transportation officials say a total of seven ramp meters will be installed -- basically traffic lights -- telling drivers to stop or go before merging onto the expressway.

'Two seconds green, two second red. That's enough time to let one car go at a time,' said Laurence Lambert with Stantec Consulting.

The Baton-Rouge based company hired by the DOTD to install the ramps says they will run only during high traffic hours.

'We run the ramp meters when there is mostly congestion which is the morning commute and the afternoon commute. They run from about 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and in the afternoon from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.,' Lambert said.

Nearly $10 million in improvements are heading to the Pontchartrain Expressway that transportation officials hope will make your commute a little easier.

The start and end dates for these four projects vary. However, transportation officials say ramp meter construction is slated to start this fall.

The final project will be lane reductions at the CCC Toll Plaza in late 2015 or early 2016.

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