To address the Capital Region’s persistent transportation issues, the region’s leaders should deploy a holistic strategy that includes enhancing the capacity and efficiency of the area’s transportation system, increasing travel choice and management, and improving transportation performance through strategic policy and partnerships.
That’s according to a new report from the Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, or CRISIS, called the Capital Region Mobility Strategy. The 58-page document released this morning outlines long-term strategies in a proposed blueprint for improving mobility in the five-parish Baton Rouge area.
The Capital Region includes all of East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes as well as portions of West Baton Rouge, Iberville, and Livingston Parishes. It is home to approximately 14% of the state population and 19% of Louisiana’s workforce.
The report confirms major transportation challenges in the region, reaffirms the needs for projects like a new Mississippi River bridge and outlines strategies for improved mobility. It includes case studies and was funded through a grant secured by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber from the Louisiana Office of Community Development.
The report was developed in tandem with the Capital Region Planning Commission’s Long-Range Transportation Plan Update, Move 2042. CRISIS, a coalition of regional businesses and stakeholders, says strategies outlined in the report are meant to be employed collectively.
“Each individual strategy will have a limited impact in isolation, but multiple coordinated actions and incremental decisions will result in significant mobility improvement,” the coalition says.
Enhancing capacity and efficiency in the transportation system includes modernizing river crossings to accommodate the region’s growing population and increased travel demand.
Both Mississippi River bridges bottleneck each day as commuters travel between home and work, compromising the region’s transportation resiliency and suppressing economic growth, the report notes.
A third crossing remains the preferred solution, but the estimated cost of $1 billion coupled with a $13 billion transportation shortfall in the state suggests other options are necessary, the report says. And even when funding is identified, a new bridge would not open for quite some time due to construction.
Shorter-term strategies—like improving U.S. 61, Interstate 10, and U.S. 190 to encourage use of the U.S. 190 bridge—are also recommended. Also suggested: making operational improvements to the Interstate 10/Interstate 110 interchange to improve backups that occur at merges and exits as well as expanding the current ferry system.
As for increasing travel choice in the region, the report recommends expanding alternative modes of transportation like bike lanes and trails—initiatives Baton Rouge has embarked on in recent years. It also suggests embracing rideshare programs, among other things. Establishing policies like complete and safe streets, smart growth initiatives and collaborating with regional leadership also are encouraged.