The road projects included in Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s sales tax proposal for infrastructure improvements align with the vision for growth laid out in the FuturEBR master plan, officials say.
At least one-third of the key congestion relief projects in the FuturEBR transportation plan would be funded by the revived road tax, including some big-ticket items such as the $54 million to add lanes to Airline Highway from Bluebonnet Boulevard to the Ascension Parish line.
Planning Director Frank Duke hasn’t looked at the current list of proposed projects to be funded, but says everything in the previous list—which the Metro Council declined to put on the ballot last year—fully aligned with FuturEBR, which was adopted in 2011.
“It’s very important to keep FuturEBR in mind as we continue to grow, because it was approved by the Metro Council as a blueprint for future development and growth in the parish,” Duke says.
Though the project list is similar to the one the administration included in last year’s failed infrastructure plan, the new version has more capacity and safety improvements, says Fred Raiford, who heads transportation and drainage for city-parish government.
Most of the projects are aimed to offer congestion relief, but the administration also looked at making areas where people don’t want to ride in a car accessible for biking and walking. The aim is to have a more mobile community where people can choose whether they want to drive, walk, bike or take the bus, Raiford says.
“I’m reminded everyday how bad traffic is. I understand that,” he says. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re so behind, we have to keep moving forward.”
The Metro Council will hold a public hearing on the tax proposal and vote on whether or not to place it on the fall ballot at its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Also at the meeting, the council will hold a public hearing on Broome’s proposed 1.5-mill property tax that would fund a mental health facility.