Bus Rapid Transit moves forward with final authorization of $15M federal grant
BATON ROUGE - The Baton Rouge Mayor's Office announced Wednesday that the revitalization of Plank Road has taken another step forward this week with a request for final Metro Council acceptance of a highly competitive $15 million federal grant awarded to Baton Rouge for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
The grant is from the Federal Transit Administration’s Better Utilizing Infrastructure to Leverage Development (BUILD) program and Baton Rouge’s success was credited by federal officials as a result of creative partnerships and strong local matching funds.
The request for authorization will be the subject of a public hearing and final approval by the Metro Council at Wednesday’s council meeting.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued a statement regarding the project and grant, saying, “We are excited to build Louisiana’s first bus rapid transit system. Not only will the Plank-Nicholson Bus Rapid Transit project serve as the spine of our transit system, it will also provide the foundation of the Plank Road Masterplan and the catalyst for redevelopment of the historic North Baton Rouge corridor.”
Earlier this year, the BRT project merged with two MOVEBR projects on the bus route to achieve greater efficiency and positioning for North Baton Rouge for other federal grant pursuits. With full funding, the BRT project will now move through design and permitting with construction expected to begin next year.
“As part of the MOVEBR program, this project will now include the rehabilitation and resurfacing of Plank Road, new sidewalks, signal improvements and amenities for the BRT system such as enhanced bus stops with improved lighting, fewer stops by specialized vehicles, traffic signal priority, real-time arrival information displays, improved pedestrian and bicycle connections, and other features,” explained Mayor Broome. “This project will be transformational for Plank Road.”
The BRT project is a result of Mayor Broome’s administration re-envisioning a proposed fixed rail tram project on the Nicholson Drive corridor to extend service to North Baton Rouge using high-quality bus service.
The 9-mile BRT corridor will provide a new transit route connecting educational institutions, the Water Campus, the downtown business district, medical facilities, commercial businesses and residential neighborhoods along Plank Road, Florida Street and Nicholson Drive.
The BRT investment is anticipated to spur revitalization activities similar to those occurring along Government Street as the multimodal transportation improvements along that corridor near completion.
The $53.6 million BRT project will be achieved through unprecedented partnerships formed to leverage local, state and federal funding to connect north and south Baton Rouge with high-frequency transit service. In addition to the federal grant, funding is being provided through DOTD, CATS, and the MOVEBR program.
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