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CPEX gets money to bring Complete Streets to north Baton Rouge

The Center for Planning Excellence has been awarded a $10,000 New Horizons grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation to develop a pilot process and toolkit for a Complete Streets policy in a targeted area of north Baton Rouge.

CPEX Executive Vice President Rachel DiResto says the grant will support the work of the Sustainability Transportation Action Committee, a volunteer effort led by CPEX and AARP Louisiana.

The committee has been working since January to develop a process to review a target area with high pedestrian fatalities, high transit usage and a lack of sidewalks and bike paths, with the goal of identifying priority projects that address access, connectivity, safety and active transportation like walking and biking.

“Sometimes, there are areas in the city where people don’t feel safe to walk or ride their bike and that’s really a barrier to an active lifestyle, which is why I think Blue Cross is looking at the opportunity for Complete Streets as a way of encouraging physical activity,” DiResto says.

CPEX is working with AARP, the city-parish, Capital Area Transit System, the Planning Commission and the Sustainable Transportation Action Committee to demonstrate how a data-driven process and coordination among public agencies can ensure equitable implementation of the Complete Streets policy, a news release says.

Complete Streets requires every roadway design to consider all moving people—and not just cars. It considers pedestrians, ADA access and other forms of nonmotorized transportation. A Complete Streets ordinance for Baton Rouge was created in 2015.

The target area for this pilot project is bordered by Government Street to the south, Acadian Thruway to the west, Gus Young/Greenwell Springs to the north and Lobdell to the east. DiResto says the intersection of Foster Drive and Florida Boulevard is the main focus.

“The data led them to this particular area because of its high transit use, high health disparities and pedestrian fatalities,” DiResto says.

The toolkit being developed could bring about priorities for Complete Street projects in the area, DiResto says, noting that the pilot will be completed this summer and the toolkit later this year.

—Alexandria Burris

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