Project hopes to make Government St. more pedestrian friendly

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Residents got a chance to find out what would Government Street be like if a two block stretch of it in Mid City was converted to a three lane----biker, pedestrian friendly zone. It's all a part of the  Better Block Baton Rouge projects.

For two days, government street between Bedford and Beverly drives will  be transformed into a biker and pedestrian friendly zone where baton rouge residents can easily access local businesses.

This is part of the Better Block Baton Rouge project---a project that would make this weekend's transformation permanent.

"Today, you'll see a safe Government Street where you can have crosswalks, where there are bicycle lanes and cyclists coming in and out. It's a destination," said Camille Manning-Broome, planning director for the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX).

Organizers say similar changes have been made in neighborhoods in other cities in the country, and their hope is to let baton rouge residents and city and state officials see the benefits bringing foot traffic back to the small businesses in the Mid City neighborhood.

"We want a Magazine Street here. We have the neighborhood that wants it. We will shop in those shops," said Marsanne Golsby, president of the Ogden Park Civic Association. "We will, believe me, we will hang in out in the bars. We will eat the food, and this will add to the sense of community that we already have."

City leaders say the Better Block program is actually a part of the larger Future Baton Rouge initiative, which is the long-term plan to improve the entire city. The city's assistant chief administrative officer, John Price, says we will soon see better block weekends in other parts of town.

"The other two designated areas that are called for under the Future BR program are the North Baton Rouge area----and I've had discussions with Jason Lockhart, who's a professor at Southern University, with regards to selecting a location up there...putting together a Better Block program there---- as well as the Old South Baton Rouge neighborhood," said Price.

Price says the Future BR plan, that was unveiled in 2011, is well underway. He says the city created dozens of bike paths and they're working on the downtown greenways.

For the better block transformation to become permanent, city councilman John Delgado says it will require community support and commitment from the entire Metro Council.

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