Several bike lane projects in Baton Rouge moving forward as controversy continues to simmer in one neighborhood
While the bike lane brouhaha along Glenmore and Hundred Oaks avenues continues to simmer following a not-so-productive meeting Monday evening with cyclists and neighborhood residents, city-parish agencies are moving forward with multiple projects aimed at creating a looping, continuous bike path throughout the city.
The proposed projects would make it possible to bike from downtown to Ben Hur Road and North Boulevard to BREC’s City Park and Brooks Park.
Bike lanes on Hyacinth Avenue, North Boulevard and along the Mississippi River are in various stages of development and those projects could go out to bid to firms later this year or early next year, says Tom Stephens, chief design and construction engineer with the city-parish Department of Public Works.
The Hyacinth bike lanes have been in limbo for several years after Baton Rouge received $579,000 in federal funding for them more than five years ago. That money turned out to be about half of the projected $1.1 million for the 4,800 feet of four-foot-wide bike lanes on both sides of Hyacinth Avenue from Glasgow to Stanford avenues.
The Hyacinth plans have been sent to the state Department of Transportation and Development for final reviews, Stephens says. The city-parish could put the project out for bid by April 1. Stephens estimates it would take nine months to one year to complete.
As for the proposed lanes in the median along North Boulevard in downtown Baton Rouge, Stephens says that project should go out to bid later this year. The plans call for a multiuse path in the median from 4th Street to the Expressway Park under Interstate 110. This bike path would connect to the first phase of the Downtown Greenway project that opened earlier this year, allowing for people to bike and walk down Myrtle Avenue from the Expressway Park to the former Lincoln Theatre in Old South Baton Rouge.
Stephens says officials are also hoping to put phase three of the Mississippi River bike lane project out to bid in the first quarter of 2016. Once completed, the project will create a continuous lane along the Mississippi River levee from downtown to Ben Hur Road.
Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, says the Downtown Greenway project is in phase two after cutting the ribbon on the first phase in May. For phase two, officials are working with the Department of Public Works on the North Boulevard path and are about 60% complete with the plans on the East Boulevard bike lanes. The cost for the combined projects is about $3 million, the funding for which is already in place.
The last leg of the Greenway project would link Eddie Robinson Boulevard to City Park. Rhorer says he hopes to cut the final ribbon on the combined 2.75-mile project in two years.