There have been a number of projects planned to improve safety and reduce congestion around I-10 near the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. A final widening phase to expand the interstate between Lafayette and the bridge is expected to start this year. The Advocate reports.
The plan is to increase the number of lanes to six between Breaux Bridge and Henderson in St. Martin Parish. Gilchrist Construction won the $87.7 million project. The project involves replacing concrete on the existing lanes and adding a lane in each direction to increase capacity.
Along with the lane expansion, there will be a two-lane overpass built for Melvin Dupuis Road. However, though improvements are being made on both ends of the bridge, there are no plans to expand the capacity of the bridge itself.
The bridge lies in a sensitive environmental area and there are significant engineering challenges. Expanding the bridge would cost billions of dollars. There are no exit ramps or turning lanes, which means that accidents are common and cause traffic jams that last for hours. Due to the extensive use of the bridge by truckers, the chance for injuries and fatalities are high. Many truckers speed through the bridge illegally to get off of it as soon as possible, adding to the risks.