Infrastructure struggles to keep up with LSU apartments

Infrastructure struggles to keep up with LSU apartments
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With LSU in the first week of classes, you may have noticed a bit more traffic congestion in that part of town. A number of new apartment complexes are feeding growth in the area, and a couple key intersections have changed as a result.

Recently reconfigured by the state, the intersection of Burbank Dr. and E. Boyd Dr. remains a trouble spot. Despite numerous "right turn only" signs, many drivers continue to dart across Burbank or make an illegal left turn. Baton Rouge Police are enforcing the recent changes with warnings and citations.

That intersection is at the heart of a corridor south of campus that's seen hundreds of new apartment units in the last five years. On Ben   Rd., The Cottages sit across from The Woodlands - where Katie Procell lives.

"My roommate she has to go to work, and we have to leave 30 minutes early, and it's only ten minutes away," Procell said.

Part of the problem is the now obsolete configuration of the intersection of Ben Hur at Burbank. The left turn to head toward campus was recently outlawed, as more units go in at The Exchange just feet away.

"304 units at The Exchange," market analyst Wesley Moore said reading at a list of new developments. "235 at Sterling's development behind Southgate, The Standard on the north side of campus is 247 units."

Moore works as an appraiser and has overseen LSU's Real Estate Research Institute's apartment market survey for Baton Rouge since 1989.

He estimates 800 new units will be ready by August 2015 in the LSU area, and expects around 3,000 new apartments city-wide over the next two years. The average for Baton Rouge has traditionally been 900 new units per year.

"The Baton Rouge area had 12,000 new jobs for the last 12 months. We keep that pace, you can absorb quite a few apartments," he said.

But can we absorb the traffic? A center turn lane was added to Burbank, and the intersection of Nicholson Dr. at Brightside Ln. is set to expand as part of the Green Light Project, but that's still in the planning stages.

"We don't have the infrastructure to facilitate growth where a lot of those big open areas are," Moore said speaking of large tracts of land along River Rd. north of Brightside.

Procell wishes she would have known that before signing a lease. She refuses to leave her apartment – in a car – between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

"I'm from Missouri, so when I came here, I was just following my roommates, and they said, 'Let's go live at this new place,' so I lived in the new place and then found out that traffic is horrible," she said.

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