Two major infrastructure projects relieving traffic congestion in the area around Pecanland Mall could go out for bids by contractors in early 2022, Gov. John Bel Edwards says.

Edwards listed a number of projects on the books during his State of the State address on Tuesday at the Monroe Civic Center before a packed room.

The first project entails the construction of a third lane to Interstate 20 from Garrett Road to U.S. Hwy 165, giving that portion of I-20 a total of three lanes.

“This is a critical expansion to relieve congestion,” Edwards said. “That’s a $18 million investment. It is scheduled to bid April of 2022. We’re looking forward to getting that project built.”

Marshall Hill, who is the state Department of Transportation and Development’s chief engineer for the Monroe region, said the funding available did not include three-laning I-20 any further west than Hwy 165.

“It’s all about funding, and if we went west of there, adding another lane to the bridge would take much more,” said Hill, who noted the project could begin soon. “The beauty of that project is we don’t have to buy right-of-way.”

On Tuesday, Edwards also touted a $48-million project building the Kansas Lane-Garrett Road interchange, beginning at the intersection of Garrett Road and Huntington Drive before heading north, with a new I-20 bridge that crosses to Kansas Lane.

According to Hill, the project requires the purchase of a handful of right-of-way parcels. The project also would build five roundabouts with two south of I-20 and three north of I-20, Hill said,

“The roundabouts will improve safety but relieve congestion and keep traffic moving,” Edwards said. “I think it’s also going to improve north-south mobility. There will be better emergency access to hospitals and enhanced accessibility for retail in the Pecanland Mall area.”

According to Edwards, the Kansas-Garrett project could be advertised for bids in summer 2022.

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