There has been a fair amount of pushback lately regarding the overhaul of Government Street in Baton Rouge. This was predictable, as any proposal of change is inevitably met with apprehension.
For those who don’t know, our city government is changing Government Street from a four-lane with no turn lane or bike lanes into a three-lane with a turn lane and bike lanes.
Detractors claim that the issue is simple: four lanes good, three lanes bad. After all, the more lanes, the better the traffic flow, right? Not necessarily.
In the case of Government Street, with the lack of a left turn lane, what happens is this: Cars get backed up waiting on the lead car to turn left, while cars in the right lane speed right along. Cars stuck behind the car turning left dart into the right lane and cause accidents. (Government Street had over 200 accidents last year). It’s not safe. It’s not efficient. It’s not smart. This is why we’re changing it.
Plus, we’re adding bike lanes and better sidewalks. Countless studies have shown that making a street more pedestrian and bike friendly is good for businesses on roads that implement such policies.
The idea is to make Government Street a destination street, not just a pass-through road on the way to downtown. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky idea. Other cities have completed similar projects with very positive results.
This isn’t some willy-nilly, impulsive pet project by the Metro Council or Mayor Holden.
This isn’t a new idea at all. Business owners and residents of the area have been persistently and patiently lobbying the powers that be for years, decades even. And call me crazy, but I think our elected representatives listening to constituents and implementing changes that residents and business owners have asked for is a good thing.
I recently purchased a home in midcity, one block off Government Street. One of the reasons I chose the location is because of the upcoming overhaul of Government.
It’s part of a larger, positive trend of new businesses and amenities coming (back) to the city center. To the folks who simply can’t wrap their heads around why calming Government Street is a good thing, I’ll say only this: Relax. It’ll be fine. And if your only reason to drive on Government is to get from the eastern part of the city-parish to downtown, then just take Florida or North Boulevard. Or better yet, ride your bike. Cheers.
information systems worker