BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - People who live in south Baton Rouge were given the opportunity to get a peek Wednesday evening at what a widened Perkins Road may look like.
The plan to expand part of Perkins Road from two lanes to four has three possibilities.
"It's a combination of traffic studies and analysis and geometric layouts, trying to find the best routes," said project consultant Cindy Hall.
Each of the three options use the complete streets concept, including both sidewalks and biking paths. The biggest difference is the size of the median. One possible route has a median 30 feet wide, another has a median of 16 feet and the remaining project combines both sizes. The ultimate goal is to create a safer and more efficient route.
"This has been one of the problem areas in the parish," said project manager Brad Ponder P.E. "If something happens on I-10, there are no surface routes to handle that additional capacity."
Many of the residents weighing in on the plans were eager to see the project started. However, there are still some concerns. Specifically, officials with the St. George Fire District are worried about the limited number of turn lanes, as well as the narrow design, which could prove tricky for fire engines or ambulances.
"Imagine, if you will, a family member had a heart attack and is laying on the floor and the fire truck has to go four blocks past you to make a U-turn and three blocks back," said Eldon Ledoux, spokesman for the St. George Fire District. "Time is critical in an emergency situation."
The project planners also have the challenge of making the wider road fit along the many subdivisions, businesses and developments already located on Perkins.
"My property is quite close to the road," said Gerald Johnson. "If it's widened too much, it comes right to my front doors and would be harmful to me trying to keep my property rented."
The comments from Wednesday's meeting will be compiled and presented to Louisiana government officials. In the next few months, a hearing will be held and from there, designers will create the final plan to recommend. Hall said these meetings are meant to address public concerns and questions.
"It's really a study phase. We also get input from stake holders, the public and try to implement some of the comments at this early stage," Hall added.
There is still a lot to be done behind the scenes on this project. There are more meetings, hearings and approvals ahead. So, it could still be a year-and-a-half before any construction is seen on the project.