Metro Council approves complete streets policy

Metro Council approves complete streets policy

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Metro Council unanimously voted Tuesday night in favor of a complete streets policy, which is the first step in making it easier for residents to move around, whether they go by car, bike or feet.

Moving from one place to another in Baton Rouge can be a challenge. However, a policy that has been newly embraced by the Metro Council should give residents a few more options. It's called complete streets.

"It's the next step in really just regaining our public space for people and not just a particular mode of travel and rethinking the way that we plan our city," said Beaux Jones with Bike Baton Rouge.

A 2013 demo on Government Street gave residents a sneak peek at what a complete street may look like. By adopting the policy, the Metro Council is agreeing to try to make room for all modes of transportation on Baton Rouge roadways by adding bike lanes, crosswalks and sidewalks to current and future roads where possible. Advocates say the benefits range from economic growth to healthier residents.

"By taking the streets and adding sidewalks, adding bike lanes, we not only open those streets to those who are looking for physical activity, we also make it safe for people to be active in their day-to-day life," said Jeff Soileau with the American Heart Association.

The task is a daunting one.

"Old streets, like Government Street - how will you have a CATS bus route, a bus stop, a different lane?" asked Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel. "How will you have a side walk? How will you have all this?"

Advocates say it can be done one small step at a time, starting with the creation of two committees. There will be one to handle the technical planning and another to voice resident concerns.

"It's not reinventing the wheel. It's not rocket science. And in fact, it's really just taking a step back and going. Before the car became king and that's the only thing we planned for, we used to plan for people," Jones added.

Council members also made decisions on other important agenda items.

The family of Carlos Harris will receive a nearly $500,000 settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The first private neighborhood, the Legacy Court subdivision, was annexed into Baton Rouge.

The search for a new parish attorney will begin after the New Year, with the formation of a seven-member search committee.

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