It has begun.
On January 7, 2019, private contractors started the highly anticipated Interstate 210 construction project that is desperately needed in order to make sure the structure is safe for motorist.
Days before workers started their task, the City of Lake Charles released a press release that reviewed the project and offered suggestions for routes motorist could travel to avoid delays due to construction.
“While this is a very necessary project, we do expect there to be delays for motorists not only traveling through the City of Lake Charles via Interstates 10 and 210, but also on roadways within the city itself during peak traffic hours,” stated City Administrator John Cardone. “We are working closely with other state and local agencies to reduce the impacts as much as possible, but we are also encouraging residents to allow for extra commute time over the next year.”
Officials with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development expect construction to last approximately one year.
Both east and westbound lanes will be reduced to one a piece. The westbound lanes will be closed at night from 9 p.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday in order to give construction workers room to work.
The work goals are:
- Redecking the bridge’s 930-foot main span.
- Building inspection walkways underneath the bridge.
- Improving barrier rail safety.
- Installing lighting.
Motorists who normally use Interstate 210 will be advised to utilize: La. 109, La. 27, U.S. 171, U.S. 190 and U.S. 165 to access La. 12.
In the City’s press release, Lake Charles Police Chief Shawn Caldwell advised local residents who typically use I-210 to traverse the city to seek alternate routes using city roadways to avoid congestion or delays due to bridge construction.
“Lengthy traffic delays will occur throughout the duration of this project so if you do not have to use I-210 to get to your destination, we strongly encourage you to find an alternate route,” Chief Caldwell stated. “Whether you are on the interstate or traveling on a city roadway, please be a patient and attentive driver. Allow for extra following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you and be prepared for stopped traffic on both the interstate and roadways.”
During the construction -- which will be painful and inconvenient -- business owners, managers and employees would be wise to plan everything from logistics to budgeting.
Also, all may want to remember the times Southwest Louisiana has faced challenges. How we contend with this construction project will say a lot about us.
I personally think of a passage from retired United States Army Ranger Kris “Tonto” Paronto’s book “Living the Code On and Off the Battlefield: The Ranger Way.”
“People make a mistake when they think happiness is about being relaxed, kicking back over barbecue and a beer. A bunch of those days can be part of a good life. But the satisfaction and pride that are earned through truly optimal experiences come from being challenged, working hard and putting your training to the test in service of a goal you care about,” he wrote.
Right now, the goal is remaining and thriving in business while infrastructure repairs occur.
“I’m not going to lie; sometimes that hurts while it’s happening. You’ve got to be tough and believe that the hurt will be worth it. Happiness comes from being tested and accomplishing your mission. Never quit. Your actions might do something positive for someone else, not just you,” Paronto wrote.
We are all going to have to work together during construction. Let us all show respect to one another while driving and remember businesses that are in the pathway of construction.
Once work is completed, we all will get to look back and wonder what all the fuss is about.