Why hasn’t the city of Baton Rouge produced any data to show that the downsizing of Government Street from four lanes to three lanes will increase safety and improve traffic flow? The simple reason is that, in fact, the Government Street diet, as it is called, will create a worse traffic situation and do nothing for safety.
It appears that these millions of dollars will be spent for the benefit of bicycle riders and sidewalk users, of which there are none today on this street, and according to 64 pages of study done in 2012 by the Michigan Department of Transportation in 25-plus locales, if there are no users today, there won’t be any when the project is completed.
I suggest that the mayor and council members get a copy of this very extensive study done by the University of Michigan Engineering Department and at least read the executive summary. It concludes that streets with the traffic count of Government Street will fail to provide any benefits, but will actually create traffic problems that don’t exist today.
Listed here are just a few of the questions that need to be asked: Where does the additional traffic go when the road capacity is reduced, and studies show that it will be reduced? What impact will this road diet have on adjacent streets? Capitol Heights is residential and one-way, North Boulevard ends at North Foster and Florida is far to the north. How will bus stops be accommodated in just one lane? How will emergency vehicles and utility trucks operate in one lane? What if this system doesn’t work? What is the impact of the $4 million traffic light upgrade that is already under contract? Are the commercial owners and operators on the street in favor of the diet; have they been polled? Why are most cities widening streets and we are considering narrowing ours? If the city is getting the funds for this project from the state, for maintenance of these roads, where will the city get the money when they actually have to do maintenance — more taxes on us, I suppose?
STOP and take a serious look before we go on this DIET. It will be hard on the traffic situation and our wallets.
J.H. Jenkins Jr.
retired contractor and civil engineer