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DOTD explains how it handles traffic nightmares

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 9:00pm

 The State Department of Transportation spoke out today about how they handle traffic tie ups like the interstate shut down Wednesday. They say their priority is to get drivers through the gridlock and give them access to alternate routes a top priority.

"It's just being able to have a crew ready to be able to work and get this job done," said DOTD public information officer, Amber Leach.

The DOTD is responsible for re-routing traffic when major accidents shut down the interstate system.

"It was a partial closure and it just happened to be at a very important merge point between accessing interstate 10 and 12," said Leach.

On a normal day approximately 101 thousand drivers travel along the heart of the Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge said Leach.

But, when everything is shut down the DOTD has to figure out how to get everyone to alternate routes, and once they're on back-up roads like Airline Highway or Perkins Road the DOTD has a plan in place to give drivers a "green light" all the way through.

The DOTD assigned lights along certain routes "priority" signal times during Wednesday's traffic nightmare, but on Thursday some drivers felt the pain again even though the interstate was re-opened. Traffic signals on the alternate routes weren't back to normal.

"There are some group signals that are controlled by boxes," said Leach. "Others each signal individually."

Lillian Caldwell got stuck on Airline Hwy. yesterday and said changing the light times didn't help her.

"It was horrible it seems like a a city of the size of Baton Rouge and the Capital City we should have better control over that," said Caldwell.

Leach says DOTD crews were able to get the lights back to their normal timing by eleven Thursday morning.

"I would imagine if we had to evacuate and an issue like that happened without a loop around the city i'll be stuck," said commuter Robert Hebert.

"Our ultimate goal as a department is to always try and keep the interstate system flowing for motorist," said Leach. "Especially 1-10 through Baton Rouge and New Orleans is kind of the life blood of our transportation system."

In the event of a major accident or an evacuation the DOTD recommends using the 511 travel information system or visiting their website to find the latest on evacuation, and alternative routes.

The DOTD released a statement on the 511 website: "Following the I-10 closure, affirm the use of the 511 Travel Information System as an important tool to help drivers stay informed and better plan their routes. During the event, the 511 website received 5,200 total hits yesterday in comparison to a daily average of 800 hits. Additionally, the mobile site received 1,100 total hits yesterday in comparison to a daily average of 125 hits." 

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