Some days I see things that I just don't understand. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to notice this, but if you are traveling eastbound on I-20 the exit to go into downtown Shreveport on Spring Street is closed. You can still go south on Spring Street to get to Youree Drive and I travel that way everyday.

So I was quite surprised the other day when I finally noticed the detour signs direct people to "exit 19B". What exit is 19B you might ask? It's Traffic Street in Bossier.

Why are we sending people over the Red River Bridge to a cloverleaf exit and lengthy detour to the Texas Street Bridge rather than send folks to the Common Street exit which is a pretty straight shot to downtown?

Erin McCarty

I asked Shreveport Public works Director Gary Norman about the detour and here's what he told me:

The detour route is set by DOTD.  We (City of Shreveport) requested that the Common Street exit be used as a Downtown / Riverfront detour for Shreveport and it was denied by DOTD.  The reason that we were given is that DOTD is concerned about traffic possibly backing up on I-20 from the traffic light at the bottom of the exit ramp for Common Street.  The Traffic Street exit provided the stacking they deemed necessary for the detour.

So I then asked the DOTD if this is accurate. Here's the statement I got from Erin Buchanan, the spokesperson for the department:

The information you received from the City of Shreveport is correct. We have to exercise caution when making decisions regarding detour routes, and consider possible impacts to traffic that these changes could prompt. There is limited vehicle storage on this ramp.  That storage is further decreased because there is vertical and horizontal curvature of the ramp.  We understand that motorists familiar with the area will choose the exit that they deem most convenient for their destination, but we must sign the official detour with the safety of the traveling public in mind.

I still don't understand why the ramps are so different. The Common Street ramp is very long and it would be easy to change the timing on the traffic light at the end of that ramp to give the interstate traffic more time to move. I have been on that ramp thousands of times and I have never seen more than 4 cars on it at one time.

Liz Swaine Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority sent KEEL News this statement about the detour:

This detour has been terribly problematic for downtown and extremely hurtful to our businesses. The Spring Street train derailment and subsequent closure was probably the nail in the coffin for Nicky‘s Mexican restaurant in the Red River District and has created great problems for the Holiday Inn, the new Holiday Inn Express, and the casinos. I know that the state is pushing the contractor to complete the Spring Street repairs as quickly as possible, but unfortunately, a lot of harm has been done.

My issue is this detour takes motorists who might be coming to town to gamble over the river to an exit right in front of the 3 casinos in Bossier. The Shreveport casinos are struggling and this detour sends drivers straight to the competition.

Also you will also find construction delays on the Texas Street Bridge.