For Immediate Release
Release Date: 12/05/2011
Mayor Holden Encourages Capital Region Citizens and Businesses to Learn Facts on Baton Rouge Loop
Misinformation Campaigns Stand to Prevent Relief from Traffic Congestion
East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden, who serves as Chairman of the Capital Area Expressway Authority, is encouraging citizens and businesses in the Capital Region to take time to learn the facts about the Baton Rouge Loop project in light of increasing traffic congestion in the Capital Region.
“We have seen our current interstate system completely shut down several times this week due to accidents, while daily traffic demands are paralyzing a system that is tremendously over-burdened,” Holden said. “At the same time, we are receiving complaints from frustrated citizens in some of the most congested areas that misinformation campaigns by some opponents are confusing citizens about what the Baton Rouge Loop would accomplish for the region.”
“We understand the legitimate concerns of citizens when any major public works project is considered and we try to address those concerns while keeping in mind what is best for the great majority of the people,” Holden said. “Differences of opinion can be worked through, but it is unfortunate that some Loop opponents are resorting to misinformation.”
Holden said opponents have alleged several far-fetched ideas, including:
• The Loop project would take as much as a half-mile wide corridor, or over 2600 feet. Fact: It is expected to be only around 400 feet wide.
• Private property will be confiscated without fair compensation. This is false; the Louisiana Constitution requires that property owners receive just compensation.
• With high walls and a wide corridor, the project will create a “Great Wall of China” in Central. This is false. There will be no high walls and no wide corridor – this is a 4-lane road as are many of the other proposed routes through Central.
• The Loop will not help traffic congestion. This is false. The Loop will save millions of hours for people stuck in congestion.
• The people are against the Loop. This is false. Every public opinion survey taken indicates a strong majority in favor of the project, including polls taken by some opponent groups.
“These stories would be laughable if they weren’t so damaging to any efforts to address traffic congestion in and around Baton Rouge,” Holden said.
“Our traffic congestion chokes off economic development for the Capitol Region and adversely affects quality of life,” said Holden. “Opponents do not offer any positive solutions, only a hope that we can live with the status quo. But every day I hear from citizens who live or work in our area and want some relief from traffic.”
Holden pointed out that the North Bypass portion of the Baton Rouge Loop has been in the State’s Master Plan for many years, and traffic studies show that segment of the Loop could be built and paid for by toll revenues.
“I’m also encouraged by local city councils who are taking a cautious look at this project before taking positions,” Holden said. “I hope we can work together as a region to find a route that can be built to serve the needs of the local communities.”
Public hearings are scheduled to be held next week in each of the five parishes that would be impacted by the proposed Loop project. Holden said the hearings are part of a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement required by the Federal Highway Administration and are an opportunity for local residents to provide written or recorded comments on the project.
The public hearings are to get citizens input on the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement that is currently available for viewing at www.brloop.com . Printed copies are also available at area public libraries.