BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge City-Parish leaders are about to launch a study that would determine whether Baton Rouge would benefit from a streetcar system.
Baton Rouge is one of 25 cities in the country to be awarded a federal grant that is providing the grease to get there. Through the Tiger Grant, the city-parish gets $1.7 million to evaluate mass transit. $1 million in traffic fees generated along the corridor will be used to match the grant.
From the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol through historic downtown Baton Rouge, the serene Mississippi River or the much-welcomed, loud Saturday nights at Tiger Stadium, people are finding more reasons to visit. Construction crews are moving dirt on even more attractions. However, getting to and from those popular spots can be a nightmare.
City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel said he was forced to ride a street car during a trip to Houston and something clicked.
"Once I saw it, I visualized it and I said, 'God, I could see that in Baton Rouge,'" said Daniel.
Daniel said he and city-parish leaders agreed the Nicholson corridor, which is undergoing a big transformation, would be a prime location for a modern-day streetcar.
"If the streetcar is slow or doesn't have enough stops, people won't use it. So it's all in the design," said Daniel.
The proposed route runs from LSU near Tiger Stadium, up Nicholson to St. Ferdinand, through downtown Baton Rouge with several stops including the State Capitol and the IBM campus. It loops back down Nicholson passing the Water Campus and the River District for a total of 3.5 miles.
"There's a lot of people that use that corridor every day," said Daniel. "The convenience of a streetcar would be where they don't have to get in their cars and find a parking place. It's something very reliable, on time, gets to destination quickly. I think it's going to be a hit."
Daniel said if all goes as planned, Baton Rouge could be riding the rails in just five years.
The East Baton Rouge Metro Council will consider a resolution to approve the federal grant at its meeting on Wednesday.
The study is expected to take 12 months.