Could it be? A sign of progress on the highways and byways of Baton Rouge? It is!
For those who don't know, Louisiana roads in general, and Baton Rouge roads in particular, are famously screwed up. While the rest of the state is getting better, a slow process at best, Baton Rouge has a much farther distance to go. This city has to recover from decades of nonexistant planning. I'll skip the surface streets, except to say that on a cross-town trip you will drive on one street that has 10 different names, depending on what block you are on.
What I'm really writing about is the interstate system. Anyone who has driven through Baton Rouge on I-10 or I-12 knows what I mean. We'll start with I-10 at the Mississippi River Bridge. Until just a couple of years ago, both lanes of eastbound traffic coming across the bridge had to merge into one lane. As if that wasn't bad enough, that one lane was an exit lane into a neighborhood, so eastbound I-10 traffic had to merge with traffic from I-110, which was coming from the north. That had been like that for years, but was just recently 're-striped.' All the traffic still has to merge into one lane, but that lane now continues, so the flow is uninterrupted.
Believe me, it makes sense if you've ever had to drive it.
As Bill Cosby once said, I told you that story to tell you this one. Since moving to Denham Springs, a rapidly growing suburb of Baton Rouge, I've noticed a few things about traffic in my area. Number one is that it's horrible, but I knew that before moving. Why it's bad is something I've pondered for the last year and a half, and I have resolved that part of it comes down to striping, again.
I don't know what the state's engineers had against eastbound traffic. Maybe they weren't getting any that month and decided that everyone should feel that same frustration. In any case I-12 eastbound in Baton Rouge is a very nice stretch of road. Plenty of lanes, with a generous shoulder on both sides. Until the last exit in the parish, O'neal Lane. It doesn't seem like reducing three lanes of traffic to two would be that much of a problem, especially at an exit, but this is Baton Rouge. Instead of having the right lane end at the exit, as it's done everywhere else, the left lane ends, merging with the middle. This has led to miles of traffic constipation.
Tonight I saw a sign of hope, and almost wrecked because I couldn't believe my eyes. Between yesterday and today the road has been restriped. The missus and I were shouting hallelujah because we had just seen a miracle. Well, not quite, but the feeling was the same. I won't know what effect this will have on traffic until I drive home from work Tuesday, but this definately shows some progress being made in a city that desperately needs it.