Capitol Views: Proposed breakaway school district boundary restored

Capitol Views: Proposed breakaway school district boundary restored

The eastern boundary of the proposed new school district in southeast Baton Rouge has been moved back to Interstate 10, as originally proposed. Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, who had written the amendment that sliced away the area between I-10 and Airline Highway, offered the amendment in Senate Finance Committee to restore the original boundary as drawn in Senate Bill 563 by Sen. Bodi White, R-Central.

Claitor said he moved to put back the area between I-10 and Airline after reviewing attendance statistics. According to White, the district as proposed would hold about 6,800 students, more than 50% of whom are black.

The bill, which has passed the Senate Education Committee, currently is being reviewed in Senate Finance before going to the Senate floor. The committee is hearing testimony from supporters and opponents of the bill.

—Today marks the halfway point of the 85-day legislative session, but most of the activity will be on the golf course and at the Republican delegation's annual Elephant Stomp party tonight at the Country Club of Louisiana. Only three committee hearings were scheduled today, with both houses coming in for short sessions this afternoon. After that, a busy week awaits legislators, who will be taking up controversial retirement bills in both houses.

—The once-shelved project to widen the I-10 bridge exit ramp in downtown Baton Rouge is getting a fresh look from the state Department of Transportation & Development, which is beginning a feasibility study on improvements.

The first step will be a series of public meetings with residents near the bridge next month, DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas told Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, at a Senate Finance Committee hearing today.

"The corridor is important to move traffic," said LeBas, though she added, "I don't know how it will be improved."

The eastbound exit ramp from the bridge is the only stretch of I-10 between Florida and California that narrows to one lane, creating a difficult merger for drivers.

A project to add lanes in both directions between the bridge and Acadian Thruway was scrapped in 2002 because of opposition from residents and business owners along the route. This time, DOTD is seeking public input early.

"There is concern with people within that area over what will be done," said LeBas. "We want to partner with them and get a lot of input."

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