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DOTD looking into congestion solutions along Highway 1

The Louisiana Department of Transportation is working on a plan to ease the daily traffic congestion along LA Highway 1 and the Mississippi River bridge on Interstate 10 in West Baton Rouge Parish.  DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett says they are implementing a couple of short-term fixes to address the problem. 

He says the department is expanding the Motorist Assistance Patrol and Tow Program.
"We feel like moving some of these accidents and stalled vehicles off of the road will help traffic flow and stop some of the back-ups."
He says they are also in the process of putting up message boards identifying drive times using the old bridge and the new bridge.
"So, maybe, some of those folds who are going to central or north Baton Rouge area will be more inclined to take the old bridge, the 190 bridge.  And by doing that, you get more people on that bridge and less people on the I-10 bridge.  So we can split up traffic that way."
As far as a long-term solution to the congestion goes, Mallett says the DOTD is studying the feasibility of a new Mississippi River bridge, south of the I-10 bridge.
"The biggest challenge for any of the long-term, especially like the additional river crossings, is going to be the funding for a new bridge, which will cost in excess of $800 million."

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Brees wants to still play at 45

At the beginning of Saints' training camp in West Virginia, quarterback Drew Brees stated that he thought he could play the game for another ten years.  Brees is entering his 14th NFL season this year and says he wasn't joking when he made that statement.

"I'm not delusional.  I know that that's something that would be extremely difficult to do.  Not many have done that.  George Blanda, but he was punting past 45."
George Blanda was the oldest player in NFL history, retiring prior to his 49th birthday.  If Brees played another 10 seasons in the NFL, he would be 45 years old.  According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only seven players have played in the NFL past the age of 45, five of those players being kickers.  But Brees says he's determined to hit that goal.
"I know it's one year at a time.  And it's what have you done for me lately.  You've got to come out each and every year and you've got to prove it and you've got to be consistent and all those things.  But why not push the envelope a little bit.  Crazier things have happened."
The two oldest quarterbacks in NFL history were Steve Deberg and Warren Moon, both of whom started at least one game after their 44th birthday.  Brees says it won't be easy, but he is confident he can still be playing in the league at 45.
"You still have to play at a high level.  You've got to find a way to take care of your body and make good decisions in regards to that.  I believe I can do that."
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LSU to get pay raises

LSU faculty and staff are looking at a second straight year of pay raises, following what was a particularly difficult stretch for university funding over the last few years. Faculty and staff members will receive a 3% merit raise, right on the heels of last years 4%. Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope says the pay raise is a welcome news for anyone involved with the university.

 "One thing this means is that we can move to a position of basic stability. We're stopping the blood letting and stopping the exodus of faculty members. Now we are giving a signal that, while lumberingly, that we are moving forward."
The pay raise may not only help retain talent, but may also help to attract professors from around the country. While the raise is welcome with the faculty and staff of the university, LSU still lags behind other major state programs in compensation. Cope says LSU has a ways to go.
"I would say that if LSU were in a field of 50 horses that comprise major American universities, that we have moved from a trailing position, to the middle of the pack."

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Study commisioned for north Louisiana rail line

A new passenger rail service could be in the works for north Louisiana residents pending the results of a year long study. Increased traffic along the I20 corridor has sparked some interest in the idea. North Louisiana Council Of Governments Executive Director Kent Rodgers says this could be part of the solution.

"Traffic is just increasing in that east-west direction. This is a way to provide an additional mode of transportation."
The study is being conducted by engineering firm HNTB Corp, the company who recently completed an analysis of a possible Baton Rouge to New Orleans rail line. Rodgers says we should expect to see some results from the study within a year...

"hopefully in eight to nine months we will have some good hard information."
It's an estimated 262 million dollar price tag to build a passenger rail service between New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Rodgers says cost is a big question for a proposed north Louisiana route.

"What would it actually cost to run this thing, and what are the subsidies we would need also?"

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