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Denham Springs' Danny King rides his mountain bike, crossing from a gravel path to a paved section that travels to downtown Baton Rouge from just north of the driveway to BREC's Farr Park Equestrian Center, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. In December, the Metro Council allocated funds to extend paving on the path from Farr Park to L'Auberge Casino and Hotel, a stretch slightly more than six miles long. King said he was grateful for a place to ride that keeps him safe from auto traffic, and welcomed the paving, which would make possible using his road bike, which is suited for pavement.

More than 100 miles of marked bicycle lanes and another 250 miles of off-road bike paths and walking trails across East Baton Rouge Parish are among the recommendations in a report outlining how the city-parish would secure funds and make sure they're built.

East Baton Rouge Parish's Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan is headed to the Metro Council for approval after having been unanimously approved by the Planning Commission.

Adoption of the plan could help the city-parish secure federal grant money that could make the East Baton Rouge a lot more pedestrian-friendly, a want from the public that was vehemently expressed in the initial public meetings leading up to the plan's creation.

"This is a lot of different groups coming together to create a network of multi-use pathways in the parish," said Ryan Holcomb, the city-parish's interim planning director. "We've been putting this together across the span of 2019." 

Avid walkers, runners and bicyclists won't have to wait long to see results. The city-parish's parks and recreation system, one of the key stakeholders in the plan's creation, has already gotten started on many of the paths and trailways suggested in the nearly 400-page document. 

According to Reed Richard, BREC's assistant superintendent of system planning, BREC partnered with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development in hiring the planning firm that served as a consultant on the master plan.

"Our main focus is to create a parish-wide network of off-road trails to provide connectivity to our parks as well as allowing safe travel for bicyclists and pedestrians in dangerous, high traffic areas," Richard said. "The 250 miles of trail will supplement the off-road trails we have constructed in recent years or that are currently in the planning stage, such as the health loop that will connect Bluebonnet, Siegen, Essen and Perkins Road, the trail funded by a federal grant to connect Southern University to Downtown Baton Rouge and the trail that will connect Perkins Road Community Park to the Lakes area, among others."

Approximately 30 corridor enhancement projects in Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broom's MovEBR roads improvement plan also make up recommended changes in the master plan. Some of those include adding sidewalks along portions of Mullen Drive, Sherwood Forest, Claycut Road, South Harrell's Ferry, and Gardere Lane.

The plan also asks the city-parish to review all speed limits through a parishwide comprehensive vehicle speed reduction study so that necessary changes can be made to ensure pedestrian safety in the parish. It also seeks a parishwide bicycle map to get published that outlines existing bike trails, walking paths and recreational facilties.

The Metro Council will likely consider setting a public hearing for the plan's final approval on June 10.   

"The master plan puts everyone on the same page moving forward," Holcomb said.


Email Terry Jones at tjones@theadvocate.com