Viewpoint: February 23, 2011

The recent census confirms what many have suspected for some time now, the Baton Rouge area has grown into what the chamber calls a "major market." In fact, with more than 440,000 residents, East Baton Rouge Parish now has the largest population of any parish in Louisiana. And, it's not just East Baton Rouge.

The surrounding parishes are experiencing tremendous growth as well. Both Ascension and Livingston parishes experienced growth rates of nearly 40 percent. The census figures are good news for the Capital area region, as it could result in more federal dollars and more political power where we need it most.

However, while our population has grown, anyone who sits in Baton Rouge traffic knows our infrastructure has not kept pace. In many cases, our roads, drainage and sewage systems are already at maximum capacity.

Going forward, the difficult challenge for area leaders will be to find a way to fund public improvements that keep up with the growth. We can't afford to go backwards.