EBR to get $13 million for 11 miles of state roadways

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A road transfer program between the state Department of Transportation and Development and the East Baton Rouge Department of Public Works is something officials are calling a win-win program.

After the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved the item unanimously Wednesday night, the state and parish can now move forward with signing off on the deal.

DOTD's Dennis Decker said the state has too many roadways they're responsible for.

"Nationally, the states have ownership of about 19% of the roads.  In Louisiana, we have ownership of 27% of the roads in the state," said Decker.

So to alleviate that problem, Decker said a volunteer partnership is now being offered to parishes across the state where the state signs off specific roadways and even gives the parish money for taking over those streets.  

"We are calculating what it would cost them to maintain the road for 40 years.  We're giving them that money in cash or credit toward a construction project of their choosing," said Decker.

East Baton Rouge parish is taking full advantage of the program.  Phase one of the project gives the parish control of nearly 11 miles of roadway that connect LSU and I-10 to downtown, such as Nicholson from Burbank all the way to downtown, portions of River Rd, Government and Florida.

"We are really trying to make the roadways more pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly and friendly to businesses," said DPW's Director David Guillory.

When those roadways are under the parish, they will be able to pursue that goal.  
Before the state hands over any streets, they will make sure they're in "good or better" condition.  In the first phase, DOTD will pay the parish nearly $13 million.  Overtime, the parish hopes to take over more than $100 million in roadways.  Because the streets will not require any immediate work, Guillory said they can use those millions for other projects in the parish.

"For instance, Perkins Road, Siegen to Highland, this was actually a green light project that we don't have the funds to build right now," said Guillory.

They plan to widen Perkins Rd. up to three or five lanes.  Plus, to alleviate some of the traffic on Bluebonnet, they're looking to connect Perkins Rowe to the Mall of Louisiana and eventually I-10.  All those projects, and more, are thanks to the state giving up some of their roads and something that will hopefully help begin to resolve the traffic problem in Baton Rouge.

Because the council approved, the next step is getting the state and parish to sign off on the agreement.  Once DPW signs, it goes to Mayor Kip Holden and they hope to have a signed deal within the coming month.