BR business leaders to seek new avenues to promote mayor's traffic improvement plan

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome referred to her tax proposal to build better roads as big and bold, but those against it said it asked for too much too soon.

Make no mistake, Baton Rouge is one of the most congested cities in America. The proof is on the road. Mayor-President Broome saw a partial solution in a $445 million tax plan to build more than 40 infrastructure projects to fix traffic congestion, synchronize traffic lights and pave sidewalks. It would have cost homeowners between $50 and $200 a year. The proposal was defeated by a tie vote of the council. Political Analyst Clay Young said the vote speaks volumes.

"I think it reflects that the mayor has a lot of bridge building to do in the southern part of the city, but she's also got some shoring up to do about the rank and file in the north part of Baton Rouge," Young said.

Young said traffic and roads should be priorities, but the timing of the mayor's proposal was off.

"If you pay attention to what people are talking about via social media, or in other circles, this tax plan just never seemed to be a big deal for people," Young said.

But those who knew about it voiced their concerns to their elected leaders. Many council members said those comments made from their constituents influenced their votes, except for two members who did not vote.

Council members Chandler Loupe and Chauna Banks Daniel were at the meeting but stepped outside of the room when it was time to vote. Both said they did not know the vote was happening at the time. Both said they would have voted against it.

The votes would not have changed the outcome. Knowing that, the mayor and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber have gone back to the drawing board to draft a new proposal. The Manager of Governmental Affairs Barker Dirmann said BRAC is exploring new avenues to clear congestion.

"We figure we could start reaching out to the community to get an idea on which projects they want, also involve other stakeholders and experts to be sure that we pick the best projects to get the best return on our investment," Dirmann said.

Leaders said you can expect to see a new draft of the proposal next year.

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