Complete Streets plan unveiled to make Mid City, north Baton Rouge pedestrian safe

    As local and state leaders continue to shoot down tax proposals to fund transportation projects, a network of organizations today unveiled a “complete streets” pilot program for parts of Mid City and north Baton Rouge.

    The recommendations—from the Sustainable Transportation Action Committee—call for walkways, bike lanes and multiuse paths, among other things, in the area bordered by Acadian Thruway, Gus Young and Lobdell avenues, and Government Street. The committee has been working since January on the project.

    The pilot program is something of a blueprint for eventually making the rest of the parish more walkable and connected, a long-discussed goal for East Baton Rouge, STAC members said today.

    The recent death of the Better Transportation and Roads Plan at the hands of the Metro Council will not impact the new pilot program because it was already in the pipeline,

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome says. She played up the collaboration between several civic groups like the Center for Planning Excellence and the AARP.

    “I’m concerned we have a lack of resources available,” says Rachel DiResto, CPEX executive vice president. A lot of these projects are low cost” and easier to implement than large-scale transportation improvements.

    DiResto and others say implementation will be an “incremental” and collaborative approach, with the state putting up certain dollars and the city-parish putting down sidewalks.

    Members of the committee say the area has some of the highest rates of pedestrian and bike deaths because of poor access to safe walkways. It is also an area where many don’t have personal vehicles, making the bus or walking primary transportation options. Also, many residents have health issues that could be improved with more walking.

    STAC hopes to address those issues with its pilot project, as well as help connect the areas north and south of Mid City. The project focuses heavily on Florida Boulevard and North Foster Drive.

    —Sam Karlin

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