State and local agencies have launched a new effort to develop a master plan for a cohesive network of pedestrian and bike paths stretching across East Baton Rouge Parish.
The Pedestrian and Bike Master Plan is in its beginning stage. The plan will function as a roadmap for developing a connected network of walking trails and bike paths throughout the parish.
It is expected to include best practices, set design standards for new and improved infrastructure and serve as a guide to implement a parishwide pedestrian and bicyclist program. A steering committee comprising representatives from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, BREC and members from local public, private and other organizations met at LSU for the first time last Thursday to begin guiding the plan’s development.
“It’s a really big turning point for the parish in terms of recreation offerings and alternative transportation,” says Reed Richard, BREC’s assistant superintendent of planning and engineering. Outdoor amenities like bike paths and walking trails can help Baton Rouge retain workers and attract new ones, Richard says, adding the plan will also help address traffic congestion.
BREC has long developed greenways, bike paths and walking trails throughout Baton Rouge. But Richard says public and private agencies have often worked in silos. The current partnership calls for everyone to work together.
“It is important that everyone is on the same page and this thing is managed and guided from the same point of view,” he says.
DOTD and BREC make up the project management team. They’ve contracted with Arcadis and Toole Design Group—consulting firms experienced in developing pedestrian and cycling plans—to develop the plan, which is expected to be completed by May 2019.
DOTD says it’s putting up $250,000 in federal funds to finance the master plan, which will also include sidewalks and surface streets. BREC, which is working with Toole Design Group, will contribute $50,000 to fund the greenway portion of the master plan.
“We want the greenway aspect of the master plan to be as good as possible,” Richard says, adding public meetings on the plan will be held in coming months, while a project website and social media pages will also be created.