If there’s one thing Baton Rouge residents can agree on: traffic is terrible. According to nola.com, traffic is the number one frustration for Baton Rouge residents. Every year, a driver averages nearly 47 hours in traffic delays, racking up over $1,200 in congestion costs. In fact, Baton Rouge ranks 13th in the country for traffic congestion, according to Amsterdam-based navigation company, TomTom. But an initiative called MovEBR aims to tackle these concerns and is designed to get traffic moving again.
“From the time I arrived at the legislature, until my departure, there were endless discussions regarding building a loop around Baton Rouge. Endless discussions, but no action. So, here we are twenty years later, stuck in traffic, traveling bumpy roads, and avoiding huge potholes,” says Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome in a newsletter to Baton Rouge residents.
“MovEBR is the most comprehensive and significant infrastructure and transportation plan in Baton Rouge’s history,” writes Mayor Broome.
Today, residents can vote to impose a new half-cent sales tax to fund the project. This sales tax excludes prescription drugs, groceries, and utilities.
According to Mayor Broome, “21% of the people paying the tax will include non-residents who travel our roads and visit our city.
MoveEBR is comprised of 60 different traffic and infrastructure enhancement plans approved by the metro council. Therefore, the multi-million dollar budget cannot be diverted to anything else. This includes building new roads, upgrading over 400 traffic signals, and improving existing community sidewalks, drainage, cycling paths, landscaping and more. Once passed, the 30-year tax plan goes into effect April 2019, with construction starting within the following year and project completion within 12 – 15 years.
“This is about quality of life for the Baton Rouge Parish,” says Rowdy Gaudet, Asst. Chief Administrative Officer for the Office of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “Some people believe public safety and emergency response vehicles are exempt from traffic; however, traffic affects them as well… In efforts to improve community efforts and roadways, [this initiative] empowers emergency response vehicles to get through traffic quicker, where minutes and seconds matter.”
Gaudet also reflected on transparency and how local residents could play a major part in the prioritization of projects once passed. “We want public input for the prioritization of projects based on the on-the-ground needs.”
Outside of growing traffic and improving EMS response times, MovEBR will also create 3,000 jobs in Baton Rouge as well as open new opportunities for businesses in the parish.
More information on the maps and full list of projects can be found on MovEBR’s website: movebr.net.