Better Block BR on Perkins Road to focus on making the corridor safer for all modes of transportation

In anticipation of this weekend’s Better Block BR initiative on Perkins Road, more than 100 volunteers picked up trash and gave the area under the Perkins Road overpass a manicure Saturday.

More than 60 LSU students participating as part of GEAUX Big volunteer day, members of Varsity Sports’ Running Club, City Year Baton Rouge and neighborhood residents helped members of the Center for Planning Excellence and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors clear away brush and remove discarded furniture under overpass to make the area safer for foot and bicycle traffic.

“The Varsity Running group all really feel strongly about any project in Baton Rouge to make our city more pedestrian friendly,” says Jenni Peters, founder of Varsity Sports, says in a statement. “The Better Block project allows us to put our feelings into action.”

The clean-up set the stage for this weekend’s Better Block BR demonstration taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

CPEX will set up temporary safety buffers along Perkins Road from Cedardale Avenue over the Perkins Road overpass as well as make landscape improvements and set up a pop-up BREC park to give residents and business owners an idea of how to make the busy corridor safer for everyone.

Preliminary plans had called for on-street parallel parking in two locations and creating a one-way loop on the north part of Christian Street to tie into Greenwood Avenue and a side road that runs in front of City Pork and George’s. But those ideas have been scrapped in order to prioritize other aspects of the demonstration.

“What we are going to demonstrate this weekend is access management, traffic congestion, landscaping, and bike and pedestrian safety,” says Camille Manning-Broome, CPEX senior vice president of planning and implementation.

CPEX received a $20,000 grant from the GBRAR and the Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge Foundation to create and implement the Better Block BR demonstration.

Following the event, CPEX will give reports to the city-parish and neighborhood organizations, as well as conduct resident surveys so stakeholders can begin working to bring the vision to fruition. Perkins Road was identified in the FuturEBR comprehensive plan as a location that could be remodeled to make it safer for all forms of transportation.

“Demonstrations like the Better Block allow us to really gauge priority projects and provide proper emphasis for future transportation improvements in line with Mayor Holden’s vision for Baton Rouge, by seeing them in action,” says Stephen Bonnette, director of the Department of Transportation and Drainage, in a statement. “Beyond modeling Complete Street concepts for the public, Better Block projects provide invaluable community feedback so that we can see which elements work that we can use to shape our planning, engineering and construction decisions going forward.”

This will be the second Better Block BR demonstration CPEX has put on, following one in 2013 on Government Street. CPEX is partnering with Mayor Kip Holden’s office and the city-parish Department of Transportation and Drainage to host the event.

Festivities begin Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with a Varsity Sports group walk from City Park to the Better Block. See the full list of events.

—Ryan Broussard

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