Reserve I-10 exit target of surveys

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011



LAPLACE – An engineering firm will be handing out survey cards to motorists traveling on Airline Highway throughout St. John the Baptist Parish today as part of the process to determine a location for a proposed new Interstate 10 interchange in the Reserve area.

Bruce Richards, a consultant for N-Y Associates Engineering Firm, said the survey will help determine how motorists get to and from I-10 from the Reserve area.

“We need to find out where they are coming from and where they are going,” Richards said. “We don’t know whether more are coming and going from Baton Rouge or New Orleans, which is valuable information to where the interchange may be built.”

State and local officials have been examining possible alternatives for a more western connection to I-10 in St. John Parish since 2004 as a way to potentially ease traffic on Airline Highway. Heavy trucks carrying freight to and from various industrial facilities in Reserve and Garyville are forced to into already heavy traffic through LaPlace. Richards said N-Y Associates, which is working with the Regional Planning Commission on the interchange project, currently has nine alternatives for placement of a new interchange.

“We are hoping that the survey can help us whittle the alternatives down to maybe two or three that we can analyze further through wetlands and feasibility studies,” Richards said. “We have done some cursory analysis on all options, but nothing substantial.”

Motorists will be handed postcards with a four-question survey that asks about their trip’s origin, destination and what routes they typically use. Once the questionnaire is complete, participants need only to drop the card in the mail.

Richards said surveyors will be stationed along Airline Highway at the intersections of Marathon Avenue, West 19th Street, Rosenwald Street, West 10th Street, Central Avenue, Homewood Place and East 22nd Street. The survey will be conducted in the morning, between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and the evening, between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

“We will have plenty of signage out before the intersection to let motorists know what is happening,” Richards said. “We want it to be clear that we are just seeking information and not looking for money. This is something that will really help them in the long run.”

Richards said the state Department of Transportation and Development performed an environmental assessment of the project in 2004, but it was determined that a multitude of wetland impact concerns hindered construction progression. State and federal officials eventually concluded that a full Environmental Impact Statement was needed, and that began in 2009 with a pair of public scoping meetings during which alternatives were proposed from the public, industry and various agencies.

Richards said the project’s cost will vary depending on location and whether connectors cross protected wetlands.

The least expensive alternative is an $80.8 million design that would connect with West 19th Street or Airport Road impacting about 45 acres of wetlands south of the interstate.

The alternative with the most time savings, according to a DOTD study, is an $88.3 million design that would connect with West 10th Street or Regala Park Drive and impact about 49 acres of wetlands.

The study is also considering three alternatives that connect with streets near the Port of South Louisiana, the St. John Airport and the Marathon Refinery, but steer the route back east to hook up with the Belle Terre interchange. Those alternatives would provide minimal time savings, but would offer an additional route for trucks to steer them off Airline Highway.

A map of the proposals can be seen at the Regional Planning Commission’s website,, under projects.