BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A solution to alleviate Baton Rouge's traffic problems is moving forward after a vote by the East Baton Rouge Metro Council.
The council voted to approve the funding for TramLinkBR with a vote of 8-1 with two members not present at its meeting Wednesday.
The modern streetcar system plans to connect downtown Baton Rouge to Old South Baton Rouge and the LSU campus.
Council members in support of the measure said it is about moving forward, and most like Tara Wicker agree the project is a huge step towards improving public transit in the city.
"A street car is something that's innovative, it's new and it's exciting. We go to major cities and use them all the time. Why not have it here." Wicker said. "Baton Rouge is a major city."
Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniel, the only member to vote no, said the timing of the plan is not right and she believes the location does not support all parts of the parish, particularly North Baton Rouge.
"My vote is basically once again to protest the fact that we're building one half of a city and that needs to end. It's progressive but the fact that we're continuing to build one half of a city is just totally impractical," Banks-Daniel added.
The project is expected to cost roughly $150 million. Some of the money is the expected to come from the federal government. Banks-Daniel said it is a huge investment in something that has a lot of risks involved.
"If we can't get little things like a bus system together and be able to manage that accordingly, I don't see that we as a city would be able to know how to deal with a transit operation that we've never seen in this area," she added.
Wicker said there is still plenty of time to flesh out the plan, including opportunities to expand it to other areas in the future.
"We're looking at all the different angles of this project to make sure it's a win-win for everyone and we believe that it is," she said.
A second public meeting of the TramLinkBR project was held Tuesday at the River Center from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Mayor Kip Holden and a project manager gave a presentation, showing off the latest on the proposed tram.
There will also be an open house format for questions and viewing displays. People could check out the plans for the tram route as well as the environmental study for the proposal.
Holden's team recently visited another city that uses a similar tram, and the mayor said based on that visit and from public comments, the plan is ready to move forward.
Another recent proposal by a different group wants to create a gondola system to fix the city's traffic woes.