DOTD and City-Parish Officials Mark the Start of Construction on Essen Lane Widening Project
Thursday, April 02, 2015 at 11:07:21 AM
Multi-Phased Project to Relieve Traffic Congestion Along Heavily Traveled Essen Lane Corridor

Baton Rouge, La. — This morning, Mayor-President Melvin L. “Kip” Holden joined Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E., along with City-Parish officials, State of Louisiana officials and area business stakeholders, to mark the start of construction on a project to widen Essen Lane from Perkins Road to Interstate 10. The project, which will be constructed in two distinct phases separately overseen by – but closely coordinated between – the Mayor’s Green Light Plan team and DOTD officials, also includes significant improvements to the Essen Lane at Interstate 10 intersection, Wards Creek Bridge and other area enhancements.

“Today is a tremendous step in the direction of progress for the citizens of Baton Rouge and all who live, work and play along the Essen Lane corridor,” said Mayor Holden at today’s groundbreaking ceremony. “Each day, more than 55,000 drivers sit and wait in traffic somewhere on Essen Lane – time they could spend at work or at home with their families. Today, we begin the process of working to change that by helping to eliminate one of the most bottlenecked and highly utilized roadways in Baton Rouge.”

Secretary LeBas added, “The widening of Essen Lane is the epitome of a team effort. I believe that this closely orchestrated effort between DOTD and the City-Parish will result in an efficient construction process, which will provide tremendous quality-of-life benefits for the many residents, workers and visitors who drive the area.”

The first phase of work – part of the City-Parish Green Light Plan – will feature the expansion of the Essen Lane at Interstate 10 intersection, including the addition of two turn lanes onto Interstate 10 to provide motorists with dual left-turns for southbound and northbound Essen Lane, as well as the addition of one lane to each of the two on- and off-ramps at Interstate 10. This first phase of construction will also include the widening of Wards Creek Bridge and the relocation of utilities from Essen Lane to Interstate 10, which will be overseen by DOTD in close coordination with the Green Light Plan.

Command Construction Industries will be responsible for the intersection improvements included as part of this first phase of construction, which was awarded via the public bid process in February 2015 and will be constructed at a total cost of $2.1 million. In December 2014, James Construction was awarded a $2.07 million contract to widen Ward Creek Bridge.

The second phase of work, which will also be spearheaded by DOTD, will widen Essen Lane from a five-lane roadway with a center turn lane to six lanes with a continuous, two-lane center turn lane. This project is expected to go to public bid in fall 2016. The total cost of this second phase of construction, which includes utility relocations for the entire project and the widening of Wards Creek Bridge, is estimated to be $12 million.

City-Parish and DOTD officials were also joined at today’s groundbreaking by several area business owners who acknowledged that, while the planned construction may be a temporary inconvenience, it will result in improvements to the Essen Lane corridor that are desperately needed and will provide a much-desired capacity expansion for those who travel along the area.

“Thirty five years ago when Our Lady of the Lake moved to our current campus, Essen was a two lane road out in the country. Today as one of the largest employers in this area we are proud of the growth and economic development on the Essen corridor and grateful for the widening project to begin,” said Terrie Sterling, Chief Operating Officer, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. “While we recognize the upcoming construction period may present some temporary challenges, we look forward to a widened, improved and more fluid Essen Lane that will enhance the commute of our team members and the tens of thousands of people who travel along this corridor on a daily basis.”

City-Parish officials noted that the first phase of this project is now under construction and work is expected to be completed by late winter 2016. The City-Parish Green Light Plan – a comprehensive street and road improvements program authorized by voters in 2005 and funded by a dedicated half-cent sales and use tax to help improve traffic conditions on some of the most congested arterial roadways in East Baton Rouge Parish – will serve as the funding source for the expansion of the Essen Lane at Interstate 10 intersection.

DOTD will fund the utility relocations required by the project and the widening of the Wards Creek Bridge, along with all of the work included as part of the project’s second phase. Once utilities are relocated, phase two will officially begin, with construction set to take place alongside the remainder of the Essen Lane at Interstate 10 intersection improvements and anticipated to be complete by winter 2018.

City-Parish and DOTD officials both emphasized the close coordination that will take place across this project between the two agencies, including efforts to minimize lane closures or other construction activities that may impact area businesses or motorists traveling along Essen Lane.

“While each phase of construction on this project is technically considered to be a separate body of work, Secretary LeBas and I recognized early on that our two teams would essentially have to function as one team in order to do this job and do it right,” Mayor Holden said. “DOTD is a close partner of ours in our work to improve traffic conditions and eliminate bottlenecks in Baton Rouge, and my hope is that this project will serve as a shining example of how local and state agencies can work together to accomplish similar goals for those we serve.”

Area residents, businesses and motorists who frequently drive the area are encouraged to stay up-to-date with the project and its progress, along with any potential traffic impacts that may occur as a result of this construction, by utilizing the following resources:

• MyDOTD, a system that will allows you to sign up to receive road closure information via e-mail
• DOTD's Facebook and Twitter (@BR_Traffic)
• The City of Baton Rouge’s Facebook and Twitter (@TheCityofBR)
• GeauxWider Facebook and Twitter (@GeauxWider)

For more information, please visit the Green Light Plan website at or DOTD’s website for this project at