STRATEGIC PLAN ITEMS
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Public transit operations: support the implementation of the transit reforms articulated by the Blue Ribbon Commission on East Baton Rouge Public Transit (BRC) to achieve improved performance of transit operations in the Capital Region
In 2011, EBR Mayor-President Kip Holden chartered the BRC. BRAC participated on this commission and is committed to seeing the plans and goals of the commission, now transitioned into the Baton Rouge Transit Coalition (BRTC), implemented. With the successful tax election in April of 2012, the Capital Area Transit System (CATS) has, for the first time, a dedicated funding source to support improved transit operations. Governance reforms by the state legislature, however, were not enacted into law, and still need legislative passage. BRAC will work with partner organizations to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the BRC, transparency and accountability to the public regarding implementation, and advocate for continued improvement of transit operations to improve the transportation system in the region.
Airport strategic plan: support efforts by the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport to develop a strategic plan for air access, land use, and economic development
BRAC has identified the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) as a key economic development asset in the Capital Region. In order to ensure BTR’s potential is realized over the long-term, BRAC is calling for the development of a new strategic plan for the airport that takes into account current and future conditions in the ever-changing aviation industry. The strategic plan will provide the foundation upon which future airport development will be supported by identifying opportunities that enhance BTR’s competitive position. Specifically, the strategic plan will comprehensively evaluate all of BTR’s components and operations, with an eye towards land-use development opportunities and the creation of a strategic business plan and financial plan to guide the implementation of the recommendations relating to capital improvements.
Regional airport services: support strategic investments in the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, including aggressive use of airline incentives that may be applied to efforts to recruit new low-cost carrier services and air service to new destinations
Airports play a critically important role in a region’s economic vitality by providing efficient and effective air transport to and from other markets. Based on a BRAC strategic assessment, residents and businesses of the Baton Rouge area would be best served over the next twenty-five years by making continued investments in BTR at its existing location and by aggressively leveraging airline incentives to recruit a new low-cost carrier service to the airport. This extremely cost-effective strategy is expected to result in substantially-reduced ticket fares and increased airline service levels (including the number of destinations served by direct flights and the number of flights per day) for Baton Rouge area travelers.
Inter-city passenger rail: actively pursue the development of inter-city rail between the Baton Rouge area and the greater New Orleans area through a multi-region coalition
In today’s economic development climate, a regional mindset is critical. While regions within a state may have once competed with each other, today’s economic landscape values the development of super-regions as regional communities unite to leverage each other’s assets. The development of a Baton Rouge-New Orleans rail would allow for increased economic and business development of much of south Louisiana and would provide a critical evacuation route for several of the state’s most vulnerable parishes. BRAC, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and other regional partners continue to work together to put forth a sound operational strategy for this important infrastructure asset.
Baton Rouge bypass and other toll road projects: support and advance the Baton Rouge bypass project toward implementation and support efforts to develop toll roads to enhance regional mobility
Many regions across the country have constructed toll roads to provide residents and businesses new transportation options despite shortages in state and local government transportation budgets. In Louisiana, toll roads are relatively uncommon. Local and regional communities have state authorization to establish tolling authorities that enable the financing of new toll roads; however, toll road projects typically do not generate enough revenue to fully fund themselves. BRAC supports the Baton Rouge bypass and will advocate for its implementation in part or in whole. If there is a financing gap, the Transportation Mobility Fund (TMF) and federal sources could address it by supplementing toll revenue with other public transportation funds. If properly funded, the TMF could allow for implementation of the first phases of the Baton Rouge bypass project and would catalyze the development of necessary new regional thruways that would increase mobility and commerce throughout the Capital Region. However, the Baton Rouge bypass and other projects should be accompanied by master land-use plans in the parishes in which this infrastructure will reside.
Regional transportation funding: secure funding for important regional transportation projects identified by BRAC’s business-led regional transportation group that enhance regional transportation mobility and accessibility
The Capital Region’s economic development depends on regional mobility and accessibility for businesses and individuals. Through a fact-based approach in 2008, BRAC’s business-led regional transportation group worked to identify and build consensus around a set of high-impact regional projects that will have the biggest impact on eliminating traffic congestion. The Capital Region has secured over $250 million toward these projects since 2008, and construction is underway on the I-12 and I-10 expansion projects. Securing funding for all or some of these projects will greatly enhance regional mobility by eliminating hundreds of thousands of hours of traffic congestion. The region must again identify and prioritize the next major regional road projects and identify funding options for their completion.
State transportation funding: aggressively support a statewide transportation financing solution to improve roads
With a backlog of state transportation needs amounting to $14 billion and growing, additional funding is necessary to address Louisiana’s substandard road and bridge conditions, highway safety issues, and increasing traffic congestion. A transportation financing solution that includes 1) the dedication of at least $500-600 million per year in additional sustainable funding, including a portion allocated to the TMF; 2) the strategic use of tolls for major capacity expansion projects; and 3) a substantial allocation of one-time funds from any budget surpluses, could address a significant amount of the state’s transportation needs over the next twenty years.
Local road improvements: support the execution of the Green Light Plan in EBR to ensure local road connectivity and capacity
The Green Light Plan, a $460 million roads program spearheaded by EBR City-Parish Mayor-President Holden aims to develop greater connectivity between existing streets and to create alternate routes that will help get traffic flowing safely throughout EBR. By supporting the implementation of this program, the business community will help ensure the success of an initiative that directly addresses one of its top concerns: traffic congestion.
Mixed-use and traditional neighborhood developments: support well-designed mixed-use developments that create vibrant alternatives to traditional single family home neighborhoods
Each Baton Rouge Area Canvas Workshop trip taken by business leaders to another national market has shown that well-designed, mixed-use developments offer unique and attractive neighborhood options. When these projects are designed based upon smart growth principles such as walkability, BRAC supports the risk taken by development businesses to build these creative alternatives to traditional residential neighborhoods. They can be distinctive options to economic development prospects seeking unique housing and neighborhood alternatives for their employees.
Land development processes: pursue consistent and fair approval processes in planning/zoning matters
With the recent surge of development in the Capital Region, there is increased need for streamlined and consistent rules in the permitting process for new projects. In addition, outside businesses looking to expand or relocate to our region are often deterred due to the perceptions of permitting complexity. Planning and zoning rules that are consistently applied will support fairness and integrity in development as our region continues to grow. In addition, timeliness and consistency will instill confidence in investors who are considering expanding or relocating to the Baton Rouge area.
Wastewater infrastructure: monitor and support the execution of the EBR wastewater improvement program and offer options as necessary to ensure the success of the program
The wastewater system in EBR has severe environmental deficiencies and is in need of major upgrades. The city-parish has approved the wastewater improvement program to make these upgrades in a cost-effective manner, yet the program is still estimated to cost over $500 million to complete. An inadequate wastewater system can create roadblocks to new industrial and commercial growth in EBR and can make the parish less competitive in its efforts to attract and grow jobs in the region. An expedient, yet rigorous, effort to execute on the approved wastewater improvement program should remedy this situation.
Louis Armstrong International Airport: support governance of and investments in the Louis Armstrong International Airport that allow the state’s only international airport to compete with neighboring peers
The Louis Armstrong International Airport is a key asset to the Baton Rouge area’s economic competitiveness. The airport has suffered from a landlocked position and years of political arguments spurring from the fact that it is owned by one parish and sits mainly in another. The creation of the Southeast Regional Airport Authority is a good first step in bringing all parties together to determine the best course of action to ensure that the state can compete with our peers by having a world-class international airport. Regional cooperation and a well-founded strategy are necessary to ensure that we maximize the potential of this key economic asset.
Download » BRAC's 2013 Strategic Plan