The average daily traffic count for I-20 between Traffic Street and Hamilton Road is approximately 100,000 vehicles and 82,000 vehicles just west of Barksdale Boulevard.
With that many cars and travelers on the road, local officials have continued to stress the need to rehabilitate the portion of the interstate that runs through Bossier City.
Bossier City Councilman Scott Irwin asked Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) members at a city council agenda meeting in August about the condition of I-20 through Bossier
“It is really deteriorating. I know it’s not your road, but you have a voice and a plan,” Irwin admitted. “It’s deteriorating faster than the project is moving. We haven’t had this problem until recently. I haven’t seen a piece of interstate this bad.”
During NLCOG Director Kent Rogers’ presentation at a real estate conference, Irwin again stressed to him the need for the rehab of I-20 to Rogers.
“It is causing pieces of the cars to fly off. Fenders are coming off and hitting other cars. It’s an embarrassment to have a company visiting our city and travel this disgusting piece of highway,” said Irwin.
Rogers did not disagree with Irwin, but argued, “But I can make the same statement on I-10 and I-12. It’s all original pavement that [former President Dwight] Eisenhower built [at the start of the national interstate system].”
Rogers said he doesn’t have the resources to rehab I-20.
“What was 90 percent federal and 10 percent state is now (flipped). I’m committed to fixing the house that’s leaking before I build onto it,” Rogers explained.
Rogers said the I-20 rehab would be split into three projects. A phase from I-220 to Airline Drive is three years out in terms of bid letting. He said the environmental process just east of Hamilton Road to Airline Drive, which encompasses the new Barksdale interchange, has begun.
“That’s going to be the hardest project because there’s not a whole lot of right away,” said Rogers.
Rogers said the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) mandates leaving two lanes open in each direction for work to be done on I-20. This mandate means lanes would have to built in order to rehab one lane of I-20.
“If I had to close it down to one lane, we have data that shows how bad traffic backup would be — it would backup just past Haughton. They said we couldn’t do that and backup traffic that far,” said Rogers. “DOTD started looking at breaking it up into smaller objects.”
Rogers said the issue is overlay and expansion, a lot of it comes down to timing and money, noting, “Federal and state funding complicates matters.”
Mayor Lo Walker said city leadership has communicated to the legislature each year about their most important projects and added “we’ve had the I-20 project in there for four years now.”
The Bossier City Council had asked Bossier City Engineer Mark Hudson to work with the state to stress improvements on I-20. Hudson noted at the April 17 City Council meeting that it’s the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s (DOTD) “highway and their money” and he is included in discussions “out of courtesy.”
DOTD Spokesperson Erin Buchanan previously told the Press-Tribune it’s not uncommon for local and state entities to communicate with DOTD regularly regarding upcoming projects or various roadway needs.
“If the [DOTD] is made aware of a particular area on any roadway that is perceived as a travel hazard, we will make a site visit and address any issues,” Buchanan previously explained. “The district is well aware of the need for improvements to this heavily traveled stretch of I-20 and plans are underway to ensure that this work moves forward.”
DOTD revealed earlier this year they would be letting the rehab of a section of eastbound and westbound lanes of I-20 from just west of LA Hwy. 3 (Benton Road) to LA Hwy. 3105 (Airline Drive) in January 2020.
The $23.5 million project is dependent upon FHA approval of a detour route.
A project went to bid in June that will mill and resurface I-20 from its interchange with I-220 to the US Hwy. 80 overpass in Bossier Parish. The cost estimate for that project is $13.5 million.
DOTD also started a $3.8 million project in May to rehabilitate 14 bridges/overpasses on I-20 in Bossier City. The majority of the work is being conducted on the side and underneath the structures.