The recent high water on the Mississippi River is a wake-up call for Baton Rouge in several respects.
In addition to being a reminder of the power of the water body that flows past our city every day, it also has highlighted the importance of the levee system here.
It seems appropriate that this reminder comes as East Baton Rouge Parish is revising its Master Plan for development. One of the jewels of the parish and its neighbor Ascension is the open land stretching along River Road south of the LSU campus.
The River Road corridor is a cultural and natural resource of national importance, but local leaders see it as mere real estate and the site of a future land boom.
The spread of seeping water, as well as potential sand boils, is a reminder that this rich alluvial area is still connected to the river, and part of a flood plain.
The identification of vulnerable spots along the river levee and the closure of a section of River Road should also remind us that the flood control system is the thing of primary importance there, and that any development should proceed cautiously.
Increased traffic and congestion along River Road because of expanded development inevitably would necessitate its widening, but the integrity of the levee system should never be put at risk.
Perhaps this consideration, rather than the aesthetic beauty of the area, its value for local food production and other factors largely ignored by local officials, will help instill responsible planning for the River Road.
That would be a worthy element for the new Master Plan.