Baton Rouge Health District gets federal grant for $3.4M infrastructure project

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded the Baton Rouge Health District $2.7 million to support infrastructure upgrades. 

Along with a $680,000 local match, the money will go toward wayfinding, streetscape and greenspace improvements that will make the area more coherent as a district, easier to navigate, and more resistant to severe weather, says Steven Ceulemans, the health district’s executive director. 

“Think of it as creating a front door to the health district,” he says. 

The R.E.A.C.H. (Regional Economic Acceleration through Coordinated Health) Gateway Infrastructure Enhancement Project will include enhancements to the Interstate 10 approach to Essen Blvd, the I- 10 approach to Bluebonnet Boulevard, the I-10 interstate approach to Ochsner-The Grove, Perkins Road/Quail Drive, and Perkins Road/Essen Boulevard.

The local match includes $350,000 from the MovEBR transportation program, according to Mayor Sharon Weston Broome. 

“This strategic investment will not only beautify intersections but also prioritize pedestrian and bicycle safety,” Broome says in a prepared statement. “It’s a crucial step in fortifying the economic impact and resilience of the Health District.”

The project will incorporate native plants into resilient designs that will hold up to extreme weather and improve drainage, Ceulemans says. Most of the planning is done, so the new funding will support construction.  

Also in Louisiana, West Monroe will receive a $1.7 million EDA grant to make improvements to deteriorated portions of the Black Bayou Canal, the city’s main stormwater drainage artery. That project will be matched with $425,260 in local funds.