Widening the interstate is a waste of money. This project will only mitigate our congestion problems for a few years before everyone is stuck in traffic again and we have to widen the interstate even more. If you build it, they will come, the cars, that is. Baton Rouge is a BIG city. Since Katrina, it is now the biggest city in the state and likely to stay that way. Big cities have real and functional public transportation that is a desirable alternative to travel via personal automobile. Baton Rouge needs to accept that it is only going to continue to grow, and sprawl, and invest money in constructing a light rail system in the city and outlying parishes with trains arriving every 20 minutes that can get passengers to their destinations faster and easier than they could travel by auto. Train stations in the outlying parishes would allow commuters to park their cars and ride into the densely populated parts of the city such as downtown, LSU, Southern, and the medical campus without the hassle of parking or traffic. The current CATS system should be dismantled entirely–it has grown worse under new leadership and is still the transportation of last resort since buses take hours to travel a distance drivable in 30-40 minutes in the very worst traffic conditions, and there are few bus stops that shelter people from the elements. Also, buses use the same roads as cars, so they get stuck in traffic too. Buses are not a workable form of public transportation that would decrease the traffic in this city. A new commuter rail system would have to have stations where passengers could wait without being caught in the rain and heat, at least. As well, no business or neighborhood should be permitted to veto plans for a stop in their area due to baseless fears that public transportation that public transportation is just a criminal and homeless person delivery system. This same flawed logic has been used by some who object to bike paths in their neighborhoods.
For the money we are spending to widen sections of the interstate, we could invest in a good, workable rail system that serves the city and the outlying parishes that people would willingly use rather than drive.
Finally, consider the health benefits to everyone if we had a functional public transportation system rather than more interstates. Driving a car is the most dangerous thing that most of us do every day–people are killed or suffer life-changing injuries in automobile accidents, but these events are so commonplace that we only really hear about the most extreme cases. Also, sitting behind the wheel of a car so much every day is harmful to the back, and also deprives people of the opportunity to passively exercise through walking a few blocks from a train stop to their destination. A functional public transportation system could greatly improve people’s health by reducing obesity as well as reducing emissions into the atmosphere, and it might make people more connected to one another as they give up riding around alone in a box for several hours a day and interact with fellow commuters.
Thank you for your comments.