Work began this week to transform part of the Mississippi levee top in West Baton Rouge Parish into a paved 3-mile bike trail south of the Intracoastal bridge.
The project kicks off with construction of a trailhead in downtown Brusly that will feature a rest area and benches.
Another levee project in Port Allen will get started soon. Parish officials are just a month away from beginning work to extend the linear park that runs along the levee top on the north side of the Intracoastal, giving residents even more accessibility to one of the parish’ treasured gems.
“With that view you’ll get with the levee, all this is going to be well-received,” Brusly Mayor Joey Normand said Tuesday, noting that residents are looking for more places to exercise. “We saw that first-hand when we put a walking track in town and folks were out there all the time.”
The projects have an estimated total cost of nearly $1 million, the bulk of which will be covered with federal and state grants. Local taxpayers will pick up the remaining 20 percent.
The parish’s work on the new $750,000 bike trail and $125,000 trailhead will be primarily financed through two state grants West Baton Rouge Parish officials secured two years ago.
Kevin Durbin, the parish’s director of public works, said the parish put up a $30,000 match for the Brusly project and $150,000 for the bike trail.
The parish received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality program in 2012 to create the bike trail. Creating the trail will require overlaying a 3-mile long, 10-foot wide asphalt bike path from Addis Lane (near the Addis town limits) to Beaulieu Lane in the unincorporated area north of Brusly, Durbin said.
“There are going to be two ramps on each end of the trail for folks to get up on the levee top,” he said. “We’ll have enough room for bikes to pass each other going both directions.”
As of right now, Durbin said the bike trail will include striping and signage but there are currently no plans to install lights or benches like the linear park in Port Allen.
But he said there will be benches and other “pavillion-type” features at the trailhead in downtown Brusly.
The parish was given a “Notice to Proceed” on Jan. 15 to start construction on the trailhead. The project has a 75-day construction window, Durbin said Tuesday.
The bike trail will hopefully be under construction in the early fall, he added.
“We’re still permitting that work,” Durbin said.
Meanwhile, in Port Allen, the parish is set to commence work to extend the city’s levee-top park to the north by 3,268 feet to build a paved walking/bike trail.
Terry Vincent, Port Allen’s director of public works, said Tuesday the city has secured all the necessary easement approvals from landowners, greenlighting the project for a February start date.
“This is a joint venture between us and the parish with the parish doing all the actual work and we’ll be helping out with some stuff,” Vincent said. “I know (West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley) “Pee Wee” Berthelot’s vision is to hopefully take the trail all the way down to the old Mississippi River bridge. But that would have to be done in phases.”
Vincent has said previously the project will cost about $120,000 to complete.
The Parish Council put up more than $50,000 for the project. The city has earmarked funds to pay the remaining costs.
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