Drive down Government Street and you’ll see a developing Electric Depot, a finished White Star Market, an array of restaurants and bars as well as an eclectic mix of kitschy and traditional retail shops springing to life along Mid City’s main artery.
Yet what you really notice, as Business Report details in a new article, is the streetscape-dominating clusters of orange cones, striped barrels and lane closure signs that sporadically—and frustratingly—squeeze four lanes into a pair of serpentine lanes—one coming, the other going.
The result is a weekday odyssey of commuters awkwardly merging into a single lane as close-by work crews lay sidewalks and curbs along the four-mile stretch of Government between downtown and Lobdell Avenue.
It’s all part of a plan that for drivers will ultimately trim four driving lanes to two—along with a center turning lane—to make way for bike lanes, sidewalks and improved aesthetics in one of the trendiest areas of Baton Rouge. In other words, proponents say, it’s the price we pay for beauty, which the now-one-year-old Government Street “road diet” promises.
But Mid City merchants say they know better, with most of them having expected a delay from the beginning. Some have adopted a grin-and-bear-it mentality, saying that whether Government Street becomes the Magazine Street of Baton Rouge—as the concept has often been billed—depends largely on the success of the road diet.