State picking up tab for several new sidewalks in Baton Rouge 

    East Baton Rouge Parish is getting several miles of badly needed sidewalks on major thoroughfares, courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

    The state is funding the projects, which will add about 5 miles of new pedestrian access to Perkins Road, Nicholson Drive, and the Staring Extension, as part of its road transfer program.

    Under the voluntary program, which began several years ago, DOTD is “right sizing” its highway system, by offering local governments the opportunity to take back portions of state highways within their jurisdictions.

    In return, the state agrees to repair the road prior to transfer. Additionally, the receiving local government is credited for 40 years of routine and capital maintenance, which can be applied to any highway project.

    The idea behind the program is to lessen the amount of road owned by the state, which has nearly 50% more roadway than the national average, and to help local governments that may have the capacity for additional day-to-day road maintenance but lack the resources for capital improvement.

    East Baton Rouge Parish Director of Transportation and Drainage Fred Raiford says he opted to use some of the parish’s credits from the program to add sidewalks to several busy arteries that lacked pedestrian access.

    The new sidewalks currently under way or in the planning stage include: A half-mile on the north side of Perkins Road between Essen Lane and One Perkins Place, which will enable pedestrians to walk all the way along Perkins between Essen and S. Acadian Thruway; 1.7 miles on Nicholson Drive between the North Gates of LSU and Interstate 10; 2.65 miles on Starring Extension between Burbank Drive and Nicholson; and 700 feet on Oklahoma Street near the Water Campus.

    The parish is also cashing in credits to create a pedestrian crosswalk on Perkins Road at One Perkins Place, which Raiford says is badly needed.

    Altogether, the cost for the new sidewalks is a little less than $1.2 million, DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett says.