GONZALES — A pedestrian bridge over the river that runs through Gonzales, making some downtown streets one-way and adding pedestrian crossings are some of the suggestions from the U.S. Park Service for a walking/biking path around the city.
"This is a fluid document. It can change," Deirde Hewitt, branch chief of the Southeast Regional Office of the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Program, told the Gonzales City Council on Monday.
"We just wanted to identify the possibilities," Hewitt said.
The plan Hewitt proposed is wide-ranging. Some of the suggestions include:
- A pedestrian crossing at East Cornerview Street and North Edenborne Avenue that would help people travel from the city's Jambalaya Park to the site of a proposed rail depot on North Bouillion Avenue.
- Making four streets in downtown Gonzales one-way, with the former second lanes striped as walking/bike lanes. The streets named in the plan are East Railroad Street, East Roosevelt Street, North Bullion Avenue and North Bryan Avenue.
- A pedestrian bridge over New River.
The Park Service's plan was drawn from input from residents at three public meetings held late last year and earlier this year.
City Engineer Jackie Baumann told council members that the Park Service's plan will be helpful in working with the state Department of Transportation and Development, when state road projects involve the walking path the city hopes to develop.
"Now we have a framework to put the pieces together," she said.
The city started on a path to a citywide pedestrian- and bike-friendly trail after the flood of 2016, when federal employees met with public officials throughout Ascension Parish, offering resources for long-term recovery.
Gonzales qualified for the Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program because the city has a master plan that calls for the development of walkable neighborhoods.
"This is a good start," Mayor Barney Arceneaux said after Monday's meeting. "We're excited about the possibilities."