CRISIS, the Baton Rouge area regional business-led coalition for transportation improvements, today released a new Capital Region Mobility Strategy (CRMS) report aimed at taking Baton Rouge out of the basement of transportation rankings and making it a model city for mobility and long-term resilience. Developed in conjunction with regional stakeholders by a consultant team led by Kimley-Horn, one of the nation's premier planning and design engineering firms, the report confirms the major transportation infrastructure challenges of the Baton Rouge area, reaffirms the need for significant projects like a new Mississippi River crossing, and outlines numerous strategies for a holistic blueprint for improved mobility.
“While efforts to fund new transportation infrastructure earlier this year fell short, the problems remain and will only grow worse without action,” said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President at BASF. “Workers, commuters, and businesses are clamoring for a viable plan moving forward. We believe this report offers not only a blueprint of what’s needed, but also a call to action to get it done.”
The CRMS, funded through a grant secured by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, takes a deliberate look at the region’s transportation system, working in tandem with the Capital Region Planning Commission’s Long-Range Transportation Plan Update, Move 2042. The CRMS balances a variety of competing interests, including changing funding levels, shifting demographics, a growing economy, rising expectations, and natural uncertainty. The strategy aligns short- and long-term transportation strategies with broader regional goals and initiatives such as mobility, safety, and the region’s economic vitality.
Scott Kirkpatrick, CRISIS executive director, pointed to the importance of having this strategy in place. He said, “Regions that can consistently name their top priorities have had success in funding them. CRISIS continues to push for strong coordination between local, regional and state levels to keep leadership aligned on our top regional priorities. These strategies will help us focus on outcomes.”
The CRMS was developed with focused input from stakeholders, including practitioners, major employers and elected officials from the five-parish region who participated in the Strategic Mobility Forum in October 2016 and the two rounds of public meetings hosted by the Capital Region Planning Commission as part of their Move 2042 update process. The CRMS is meant to complement and augment the development of the Long Range Transportation Plan Update, a federally-mandated and fiscally constrained plan that assigns projected transportation funding that will be available over the next five years. The CRMS emphasizes some elements of the Move 2042 plan, while also highlighting important policies, programs and ideas that fall outside of that plan and require multiple partnerships to advance.
An overview of CRMS strategies include:
- Capacity and Efficiency
- Enhanced River Crossings, the region’s most often-cited need
- Regional Arterials, establishing priorities for cross-parish commuter routes
- Transportation Technology, expanding existing capabilities and creating a shared regional system
- Travel Choice and Management
- Active Transportation Alternatives, expanding non-auto connectivity
- Travel Demand Management, embracing the Commuter Krewe ridesharing program
- Shared Ride Transit Services, exploring commuter-focused regional transit
- Policy and Partnerships
- Complete & Safe Streets, establishing policies to improve safety and non-auto networks
- Smart Growth Initiatives, planning communities to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and growth externalities such as increased roadway congestion
- Regional Leadership & Collaboration, increasing the participation of community and business leaders in decision-making
Each individual strategy will have a limited impact in isolation, but multiple coordinated actions and incremental decisions will result in significant mobility improvement. The CRMS emphasizes long term outcomes that can help shape priorities and guide decision making, and includes a series of case studies to illustrate potential benefits. Capital Region Planning Commission Executive Director Jamie Setze said, “The CRMS, developed hand in hand with the Move 2042 Long Range Transportation Plan update, takes a holistic view of all the considerations impacting Capital Region mobility. These strategies provide a way forward on shared priorities, highlighting elements of the Move 2042 plan within a broader context. The CRMS will be a valuable tool in helping to inform our decision-making and measure our progress as a region.”
Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa stated, “As a regional partner in the Capital Region’s transportation strategy, Ascension Parish recognizes the unprecedented growth in population, job creation, traffic and congestion in the metropolitan area. Ascension Parish is pleased to work with our regional partners on combined priorities that align with our diverse community objectives, including the Capital Region Mobility Strategy.”
“This Mobility Strategy confirms, re-presents, and uncovers new data for our many transportation problems and potential solutions. Furthermore, this extensive work undertaken by CRISIS serves to demonstrate that future transportation decisions – for example, the location of bridges in the Baton Rouge region – be based on data and not driven by politics,” said West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot.
To review the complete Capital Region Mobility Strategy, see http://trafficcrisis.com/crms/