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COVID, traffic & crime top concerns for Baton Rouge mayor in 2021

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BATON ROUGE - Entering her second term in office, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's State of the City address Wednesday focused on three big aspects of her tenure: COVID, crime and traffic. The coronavirus was the most pressing issue.

“On‌ ‌March‌ ‌24,‌ ‌2020‌ ‌Baton‌ Rouge‌ ‌lost‌ ‌its‌ ‌first‌ ‌soul‌ ‌to‌ COVID-19.‌ ‌That‌ ‌was‌ ‌294‌ ‌days‌ ‌ago. And‌ ‌over‌ ‌those‌ ‌294‌ ‌days,‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌lost‌ ‌580‌ ‌people‌ ‌to‌ ‌coronavirus.‌ ‌ That‌ ‌is‌ ‌more‌ ‌than‌ ‌2‌ ‌people‌ ‌a‌ ‌day,” Broome said.

Mayor Broome says she plans to continue to increase COVID testing, and will address the possibility of further restrictions in a press conference Thursday.

However, an issue that’s been plaguing the city-parish for much longer than COVID is the high rate of homicides. In 2020, East Baton Rouge shattered its previous record.

The mayor says she will continue to work with law enforcement but is also implementing new crime reduction tactics such as the Baton Rouge Community Street Team. The program will train residents in neighborhoods to become outreach workers and mediate conflicts without police.

“And we will utilize a mental health approach to address unresolved trauma and ongoing mental health issues that lead to a cycle of violence,” Broome said.

The mayor also set a huge goal for administration to address traffic concerns.

“‌My‌ ‌goal‌ ‌is‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌30 percent‌ ‌of‌ MOVEBR ‌projects‌ ‌completed‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌end‌ ‌of‌ ‌2024."

That’s $300 million of her $1 billion project. The‌ ‌largest‌ ‌infrastructure‌ ‌project‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌history‌ ‌of‌ ‌Baton‌ ‌Rouge‌ ‌is‌ ‌scheduled‌ ‌to‌ ‌begin‌ ‌24‌ ‌capacity‌ ‌projects‌ ‌and‌ ‌44‌ ‌corridor‌ ‌enhancement‌ ‌projects‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌end‌ ‌of‌ ‌the year.

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