Baton Rouge traffic, a topic of discussion as common as the weather and Tiger football in the Capital City, may deserve all the blasphemy bestowed upon it by irritated motorists stuck on I-10 during rush hour each day.
Congestion in Baton Rouge, according to some national indicators, is among the very worst in the country when comparing similar-sized areas.
Baton Rouge ranks 3rd in the country for most congested, “medium” sized city in the country, according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s Mobility Report.
INRIX, a company that releases national scorecards on the traffic woes of various cities, also put Baton Rouge at third worst among “medium/average areas” in 2015.
The report said congestion costs each commuter in Baton Rouge $1,262 per year, compared to the national average of $870.
University civil and environmental engineer Laurence Lambert, who studies traffic, said in an email that a lack of planning 60 years ago in Baton Rouge led to the plight.
Downtown and Mid-City, constructed before the interstate, rely on grid systems, he said, which accommodate alternative routes. But the newer areas, like Bluebonnet Blvd. and Essen Lane, are the most congested corridors in the city.
Lambert said if he could make a recommendation to Gov. John Bel Edwards, it would be to pass a gas tax to fund the $12 billion DOTD backlog.
“I understand the public’s frustration with traffic. But the truth is the Department of Transportation and Development is woefully underfunded,” he said.
Mathematics senior Jack Hogan took a road trip over the summer, covering 18,000 miles, 72 days and nearly 40 cities in his quest to see a baseball game at every major league park.
Washington, D.C., New York City, Atlanta and Los Angeles have the worst traffic, he found.
“Then I would probably honestly say Baton Rouge is next,” he said.
While at school in Missouri last semester, Hogan said his 40-minute commute was longer than his bus ride from Brightside Drive is now, but Baton Rouge traffic is “way worse.”
Around campus, Lambert said, the sheer amount of single-occupant vehicle trips of students going to school each day overwhelm the area. He said some of the campus issues could be helped by bike or pedestrian accommodations and premium parking for carpool tags.
Contributing to the dismal state of the city’s traffic has been an underfunded bus system and few bike lanes, he added. But recent funds for the bus system have helped “tremendously” in creating more efficient routes, and a public meeting Thursday will entertain the idea of a streetcar on Nicholson Drive.
“The proposed streetcar on Nicholson will be a game changer for the University and the city. You could live on campus, along Nicholson or downtown and not need a vehicle. All you will need to live will be located along Nicholson,” he said.