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Baton Rouge express bus route could become a reality after failed tram project

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BATON ROUGE - An express transit route could come to the Capitol City if it meets certain federal requirements.

The proposed Bus Rapid Transit project would be a faster route in the central area of metropolitan Baton Rouge. The Redevelopment Authority along with CATS, the city and state transportation officials are pushing toward this initiative after the canceled Tram Project did not move forward.

The Bus Rapid Transit project would be partially funded through the Federal Transit Authority.

"It would be the first ever rapid bus transit project in the state of Louisiana, and it gives Baton Rouge a tremendous opportunity to pursue true transit-oriented development through the urban core of the city," said Chris Tyson with the redevelopment authority.

The route is not set in stone, however, Tyson says they're considering choosing the bus route to go along Plank Road, to N. 22nd Street and end on Nicholson drive near LSU.

"We have buses running on an express route, typically with signal priority or signal preemption... Meaning that when they move to an intersection, the light would hold green and allow it to continue on, creating an express route with fewer stops," Tyson said.

One of the goals in the development of this project is to bring a better way to get around the 70805 community.

"Particularly, the Plank Road corridor is a focus of ours it is undoubtedly our most blighted corridor in the city-parish. It has the second highest transit ridership in the CATS system, it has one of the highest levels of zero-car households in the city-parish," he added.

The project would cost between $40 and $50 million, with half of that coming from the federal government.

If all goes as planned, the route could be up and running by 2022.

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