Planners gauge traffic increases on alternate routes

Interstate 10, U.S. 90, Lorraine Road and the Back Bay bridge are expected to see the largest increases in traffic as a result of the Popp’s Ferry bridge closure, according to traffic models prepared by Gulf Regional Planning Commission.

Interstate 10 west of Cedar Lake Road will see a 20 percent jump in traffic, to 85,000 vehicles on an average day, while U.S. 90 west of I-110 will see traffic increase by 16.3 percent, to nearly 60,000 vehicles a day.

Lorraine Road at the Industrial Seaway is expected to have traffic counts climb 11.5 percent, to 31,000 vehicles a day, while the I-110 highrise over Back Bay will see its volume of 83,— vehicles increase to 88,847, a 7 percent increase.

The numbers are based on traffic models that consider such variables as population, employment, hotel rooms, school attendance and casino gaming locations, according to James D. Wilkinson, a planner with the firm Neel-Schaffer.

“It’s going to take the better part of this week for people to figure out the best route for them to take,” said Elaine Wilkinson of Gulf Regional Planning Commission, which, as the area’s metropolitan planning organization, monitors traffic flow.

“Some of the alternate routes with smaller numbers may show increases as people look for less-congested routes.”

The model also took into account motorists’ frustration with traffic congestion.

Said Neel-Schaffer’s Wilkinson: “It’s a matter of the model looking at how many vehicles are already on a particular route, and when you start adding more, it causes congestion, which means people will use another route.”

Gulf Regional Planning intends to conduct a case study of the impact of the loss of the bridge on travel and affected roadways. “This will be an important tool in planning for future emergencies and identifying alternate routes,” Elaine Wilkinson said. “We will be placing traffic counters along several of the roads to monitor the traffic and provide pre- and post-event statistics.“

To see the figures in the traffic model prepared by Neel-Schaffer for Gulf Regional, click here.