Fewer than 10 residents showed up Monday night to hear Mayor-President Kip Holden and other city-parish officials describe the progress on two of the parish’s biggest infrastructure-improvement projects: the Green Light Plan and the Sanitary Sewer Overflow Program.
The forum — held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Gus Young Avenue — was the latest in a series of similar meetings hosted by Holden to discuss the programs.
Baton Rouge’s infrastructure is decades old, Holden said.
“We are spending millions to fix outdated sewers and millions to fix roads in Baton Rouge,” he said. “Our infrastructure is 50-60 years old.”
Holden said bridges in East Baton Rouge Parish are a particular concern.
“We have a lot of bridges propped up by wood pilings,” he said.
He also said increased traffic after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had placed a burden on parish roads.
“In one week, we exceeded our 25-year traffic projection,” Holden said.
The only Green Light Plan project in Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle’s district was a $5.7 million expansion of the North Foster Drive-Government Street interchange, though some surrounding projects would have “influence” on traffic in the area, said Michael Songy, the plan’s project manager.
In addition, Green Light Plan funds had been used to repair and improve sidewalks throughout District 7, city-parish Director of Public Works William Daniel said.
The Green Light Plan was approved by voters in 2005 and is the first road bond program of its kind since 1964. It is funded through a half-cent sales tax that will lapse in 2030.
Officials also described the Sanitary Sewer Overflow Program, which was put in place by a 2002 federal consent decree to address the parish’s crumbling sewer system.
It is funded by a half-cent sales tax and monthly sewer fees and is expected to cost the parish approximately $1.5 billion, including master planning that has gone along with the project, Daniel said.
The program has a federally mandated deadline for completion of Dec. 31, 2014.
When completed, more than 1,000 miles of sewer line will have been upgraded, said Joshua Joseph, an engineer with CH2M Hill, the firm overseeing the project.
The Rev. Conway Knighton, the pastor of St. Mary Baptist Church on Acadian Thruway, asked officials about the projected growth for District 7.
“Currently, when we get heavy rain, we get flooding,” Knighton said.
Deputy DPW Director Bryan Harmon said the SSO program would not address drainage, which is separate from the sewer system.
Marcelle asked Holden what projects were being considered for the area.
“The Green Light Plan was not designed by district,” Holden said. “We can’t predict where it will go in the future.”
Metro Council District 7 is a north-south district generally stretching from Clayton Drive and Sycamore Street in the north; Plank Road and North Acadian to the west; Bawell to the south; and Airline Highway, North Ardenwood Drive and North Foster Drive to the east.
Harmon said officials were contemplating projects on South Foster, North Foster, Acadian Thruway, Government Street and Choctaw Drive.
Similar meetings are scheduled for Monday at the Zachary Branch Library and July 23 at the Greenwell Springs Branch Library.