The first phase of a new $21 million road that connects Essen Lane to the new Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital was dedicated on Thursday, a month before the hospital opens. 

Constantin Boulevard, named in memory of Our Lady of the Lake nun Sister Linda Constantin, took about a year to build and is part of a master plan to connect the Baton Rouge Health District and reduce traffic in the area. 

The project's second phase, part of the $1.2 billion MoveBR budget, will extend the road to Bluebonnet Boulevard.  Construction is expected to begin next year after bidding begins during first quarter and is likely to take 13 months to build, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. 

Our Lady of the Lake donated about $12 million worth of land for the first phase of the road and Baton Rouge Medical Center is expected to donate more land for phase two. On average, about 42,600 vehicles travel along Essen Lane each day and Bluebonnet gets about 42,900 vehicles daily, leading to congestion.

“This multi-phase project is critical to both increasing access to care and mitigating traffic congestion,” said Scott Wester, CEO of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.  

The Baton Rouge Health District is a nonprofit organization that promotes collaboration among healthcare providers, government officials, higher education institutions and others to implement a master plan that will enhance healthcare and economic development in Baton Rouge. Health District members include: the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Ochsner Health System, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, and Woman's Hospital.

The health district will continue to work with East Baton Rouge Parish to build roads parallel to I-10 to reduce congestion as part of its master plan. Eventually, there are plans for a bicycle and pedestrian friendly loop around the cluster of hospitals and health care provider offices.   

"This is the first part of a greater vision where future roads will become bike trails and you'll see people biking, walking and driving among residential, commercial, health care and educational facilities," said Paul Douglas, vice president of human resources and strategy at Baton Rouge General Medical Center.

The leader spearheading that effort is Steven Ceulemans who began as the new executive director of the Baton Rouge Health District in mid-August. Ceulemans replaced Suzy Sonnier, the first director of the district, who left in late 2018 after nearly three years on the job.

Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.