Council eyes Kenilworth extension to Burbank

Baton Rouge officials are looking at building another connection between Highland Road and Burbank Drive to ease traffic in the area. But a decision to extend Kenilworth Parkway, one of the likely scenarios, would mean trouble for some of the adjacent businesses and an old cemetery.

Traffic continues to be an issue at the Lee Drive-Highland Road intersection and along Highland and Burbank, said David Guillory, director of the Department of Public Works.

Creating a connection between Highland and Burbank by extending Kenilworth, or extending Seyburn Drive — another option — could alleviate some of the congestion.

Guillory said if they choose Kenilworth, it’s likely a handful of businesses could be affected, including the Highland Ace Hardware & Garden Center, Country Day School of Baton Rouge, Sanctuary Home and Gifts and an old cemetery.

“I don’t think there’s a way to extend it there and not affect those,” Guillory said, adding the decision to extend Kenilworth is still up in the air.

On Wednesday, the Metro Council will vote on whether to approve a feasibility study to build a new road connecting Burbank and Highland.

The feasibility study could recommend extending Seyburn Drive, which is a few blocks north of Kenilworth, Guillory said, but, “Kenilworth has been the obvious choice because of the type of street that it is and the traffic that flows down it.”

The study would weigh traffic impact against costs and impacts to businesses. The study will take about six months, and Guillory said it’s premature to presume any businesses will be moved at this time.

Representatives of the three businesses that would be affected did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The cemetery, which is tucked away behind Sanctuary gift store, contains about 50 plots, many unmarked. Of those that are marked, many are more than a half-century old. One of the newest graves was for someone buried in 1998.

Guillory said the cemetery could weigh heavily against the Kenilworth extension, because the city-parish wouldn’t want to relocate a cemetery.

“We can’t really mess with cemeteries,” he said.

Councilman John Delgado, whose district encompasses the area, said he wants to see what a study suggests for the area.

“But based solely on whether we have to relocate businesses or a school should not be our prime concern,” he said. “Part of the role of government is to make those decisions.”

If the city-parish ultimately decides to move forward with the project, it can expropriate land from businesses or property owners for a public project without their consent.

The project to add another connection between Burbank and Highland is part of the Green Light Plan, a half-cent sales tax funded road improvements plan approved by voters in 2005.

A four-lane extension of Staring Lane from Highland Road to Burbank Drive that opened in June 2011 was also a Green Light Plan project.