Route unveiled for Baton Rouge streetcar connecting LSU and downtown

    Planners released details today of the proposed route for Baton Rouge’s planned 3.4-mile streetcar that will link LSU to downtown.

    Heading north, the proposed route travels along Nicholson Drive, which becomes St. Louis Street at Interstate 10, then utilizes Europe Street for one block to connect to St. Ferdinand Street, which becomes Fourth Street. The route then continues on Fourth Street in a north-south direction to the northernmost stop on the route—North Street at the State Capitol. The streetcar would then turn around and use the same route in a southbound direction.

    Planners studied three proposed routes and determined that using Europe Street as the connector between St. Louis and St. Ferdinand “provides a smooth transition from Nicholson Drive to downtown and avoids the traffic, operational and vertical clearance challenges associated with the other options,” according to the report.

    Downtown Development District Executive Director Davis Rhorer says the proposed route has other other advantages, too.

    “I like the idea that it is a straight shot to and from downtown,” he says. “It’s easy walking distance from the stops to all the downtown attractions, it takes in the arts and entertainment district, and it goes by the River Center garages.”

    Today’s report also suggests 11 recommended stops for the streetcar. Downtown they include North Street, Florida Street, North Boulevard, Government Street and Europe Street. Along Nicholson they include Water Street, Van Buren Street, McKinley Street, Aster Street and North Stadium Drive. Either Oklahoma Street or Galvez Street is listed as another possible stop.

    The proposed route is one of several steps city officials and their planning team have to complete as they rush to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project. The city-parish has already received federal planning funds to design the project, but it now has to complete a detailed and lengthy process in order to qualify at the federal level for some of the $100 million in funds it will take to actually build the line, now officially called TramLink BR.

    Time is of the essence because the Obama administration, which leaves office at the end of the year, has indicated its support for the project.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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