Capital Region Planning Commission launches new strategy to address traffic, infrastructure

    The Capital Region Planning Commission kicks off a year-long planning process today that will help determine which transportation improvement projects in the five-parish region ultimately become reality.

    The plan is called Move 2042 and will include both short- and long-term projects for East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville and Livingston parishes.

    “We’re about to start a process and we really need the public’s input in this,” says CRPC Executive Director Jamie Setze. “This is very important if you care about traffic.”

    There have been several planning processes related to the area’s infrastructure of late—including a statewide plan released by the Department of Transportation and Development early this year. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ task force on transportation is currently meeting. The industry-led CRISIS initiative used a metrics-based approach to rank nearly 20 capacity projects that could alleviate congestion in the region.

    But the CRPC’s plan is the only one that matters in one important respect: The CRPC serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for this area, and the federal government only funds projects that are vetted and agreed upon by the MPO.

    Setze says it will be important that the CRPC produce a plan that dovetails as closely as possible with other plans underway, especially the one that will be produced by the governor’s task force on transportation. Communication and public input will be key to making that happen, he says.  

    “We have to make sure there isn’t any sunshine between the two plans or it will decrease our effectiveness,” he says. “The federal government wants to make sure we are all on the same page.”

    The planning process is extensive. At today’s meeting, CRPC Executive Director Jamie Setze will outline the steps involved. They include a series of stakeholder focus groups and interviews that will be held in July, and two rounds of public meetings—one in August and one in November. Next May a draft plan will be released, followed by a period of public comment. In July 2017, the plan will be adopted.

    “We really want the public to have input into the goals and objectives and also into the project prioritization process,” Setze says.

    Today’s CRPC meeting is open to the public. It will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the BREC administrative offices at 6201 Florida Blvd.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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