BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Plans to relieve traffic and connect one the busiest sections of Baton Rouge were on display Tuesday night for the Baton Rouge Health District, which spans from Essen Lane to Bluebonnet Boulevard.
The area from Our Lady of the Lake all the way over to Baton Rouge General and Ochsner is seeing and will continue to see lots of development, but with development comes more people and with more people comes traffic.
If the Baton Rouge Health District was a patient, the heart made up of the major roadways pumping cars and people to where they need to go, it would be in cardiac arrest.
"If you look at traffic today, you know it's terrible," said John Spain, executive vice president for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. "If you look and know we're going to build half a million dollars of additional buildings, new hospitals, expansions, we know it's going to get worse."
The health district encompasses the many hospitals, medical offices and even residents located along Perkins Road, Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard. As a part of the FutureEBR campaign, BRAF hired a team of planners to breathe new life into the district by identifying the development problems and proposing solutions. First and foremost on the list is to find a way to make it easier for people to move around.
BRAF turned to development firm Perkins+Will to create an area that fosters better healthcare, economic development and a healthy environment. However, before that can happen, residents say traffic must be addressed. As anyone who works or lives in that area knows, rush hour can almost bring traffic to an agonizing standstill.
Planners presented several plans Tuesday night to help relieve some of the congestion. The plans entailed adding a "Mid-way Road" between Essen and Bluebonnet, as well as additional smaller streets and trails that would allow for safe walking and biking.
"If you think of all the great cities in downtown Baton Rouge, the reason it works so well for cars and pedestrians is because of small, walk-able blocks," explained David Green, one of the planners. "So, you can build great buildings, you can have great pedestrian environments and you can move cars through in a way that will alleviate congestion."
The team admits that each plan comes with challenges. However, Green said they hope drivers will begin to see small changes sooner than later.
"We're looking at incremental increases in things like sidewalks that help people move through the district. We're going to look at transportation management on a district wide level," Green added.
Paul Moran lives and owns a small business in the Baton Rouge Health District. He said he's excited by the proposed plans.
"Anything that would have trails and make it safer for people to get around, more people would use it," Moran said. "Right now, it isn't safe to travel."
The planners also took cues from residents who got to share their input. Green said a final master plan will be complete in February and drivers should start seeing some changes shortly after that.