BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Pylons, tape and fences lined the roadway on Government Street Sunday near Baton Rouge Magnet and Catholic High Schools.
"This street basically has an accident every single work day of the year," said Gordon Mese, owner of Garden District Nursery on Government Street.
Mese ran for Baton Rouge mayor in 2012 with improving Government Street a big part of his platform.
"No work except emergency repairs has been done on this street for 50 years so it's time for it to be rehabbed. It's way past time," added Mese.
The $6 to $8 million rehab effort includes knocking down Government Street from four to three lanes between the Interstate and Lobdell Avenue with a designated middle turning lane. A bike lane will also be part of the road. Mese says the changes will help cut down on congestion and accidents while giving a boost to businesses that he says many people just don't realize are there.
"I drove up and down Government Street and I've never seen it. I said that's because you're driving 55 miles per hour going like this waiting for something to jump out in front of you instead of being able to see what you're driving past so for me it's all about visibility," said Mese.
Opponents are skeptical a reduction in lanes will actually cut back on traffic, but some local leaders say they had their doubts as well but add countless studies have proven the adjustments do work.
"Some areas like Mid-City we're able to do that where we can take the existing corridor shrink it down, make it bike friendly, make it where people can walk from their homes to the businesses they frequent and make it usable for everyone," said Baton Rouge Metro Council Member John Delgado.
That is good news for Mese who has worked alongside mid-city groups and organizations for more than a decade trying to improve this historic Baton Rouge artery.
"We've kind of gotten to the point where this is the tipping point. We've won the battle and now we're going to actually reap the benefits of a 28 year battle to make this happen," said Mese.
Public meetings to improve Government Street traffic flow are expected to be held within the next three months.