Efforts to designate a more than 300-mile bike route through south Louisiana are gaining some traction.
Leaders with Bike Baton Rouge, a nonprofit for cycling enthusiasts, say they're close to obtaining the necessary commitments from the 11 parishes the route would pass through, a critical step for the proposed project to advance for state and federal approval.
"We focus only on those areas where the local jurisdiction owns the street or highway the route is shown to go down," said Mark Martin, who's spearheading the project for Bike Baton Rouge. "Once we present them with the plan the only discussion there really involves who's going to pay for this."
Bike Baton Rouge has partnered with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, cycling organizations in Mississippi and Texas as well as the Adventure Cycling Association to coordinate the the route, which is being called the U.S. Bicycle Route 90.
Signs will designate the route's winding path through the southern end of the state, and local municipalities must agree to pay for installation and maintenance of those signs through their annual allocations from the state's transportation department.
Bike Baton Rouge most recently received the support it needs from the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury, which last week unanimously agreed to support the project.
Martin is waiting on resolutions of support from at least four more municipalities along the path.
The proposed route would follow ACA's Southern Tier route, a more than 3,000-mile designated bike path that runs from San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida.
Bicycle Route 90 is designed to pass through 11 parishes in the state, including Pointe Coupee, East and West Feliciana, St. Helena and Tangipahoa, starting at the Louisiana-Texas state line, crossing through northern portions of Acadiana and ending in Washington Parish at the Louisiana-Mississippi state line.
The designated path mostly runs along back highways and rural bypasses instead major thoroughfares.
"It uses U.S. 190 for part of it, but not all of it," Marton said. "The idea is to keep it away from too much motor traffic."
Bike Baton Rouge is hoping the route will inspire cyclists to experience parts of the state, and even the country, in a new way and attract more out-of-town visitors through its larger connection to the ACA Southern Tier bike path.
It's unknown yet when all the signs will be in place to officially implement the path, Martin said. The project still has to win approval from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials once it receives the blessing of DOTD.
After that, Martin said, "how long it takes for the various districts to put up signage is anyone's guess."