CRPC visits Ascension for Move 42 open house

Greg Fischer
Sr. Transportation Planner with CRPC Pong Wu explains the projected growth scenarios that play into a 25-year transportation and safety plan.

The Capital Region Planning Commission (CRPC), on March 9, made a strong effort to gather information from the Ascension community to address traffic and safety issues.

The initiative by the CRPC, which serves as the particular Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Ascension Parish and the Greater Baton Rouge Area, is known as Move 2042. "Move 42" is what the 25-year Metropolitan Transportation Plan is being called.

"Move 42" kicked-off in June 2016, but Thursday served as the first round of the public outreach process. While the issue of safety is top on the agenda, issues of peak-hour traffic congestion, railroads and bike and pedestrian lanes are all being addressed, over the next five months for the five-parish region.

"The purpose of this informational meeting is to solicit input from the citizens on what their issues are," CRPC Executive Director James C. "Jamie" Setze said. "So that as we report this back and start building a 25-year plan it reflects the needs and the wants of the community."

It is important for the public to participate. The CRPC needs public input to figure out how best to spend federally allocated dollars. Of course, there are the obvious congestion spots. Like intersections that get backed up regularly near more heavily populated and industrialized zones.

"We not only want to get input, but we want to show the public that there is a concerted effort to alleviate traffic problems and safety issues," Setze said.

But it is also largely a guessing game. According to Setze, Ascension Parish is projected to grow from a population of roughly 110,000 people to 185,000 people over the next 25 years. How does the CRPC plan for such a boom?

One of the ways to make an educated guess is by plotting different growth scenarios, based on commercial, rural, suburban and industrial projections, according to Sr. Transportation Planner Pong Wu.

"In order to do our long-range plan, the first thing we need to know is about population," Wu said. "Where is the population?" 

Setze and the CRPC reportedly have done a much better job this year for public outreach. Many were in attendance, including media and public officials. There was a computerized survey for those in attendance and a "drawing board," where people could draw along a map where problem areas are located.

"This time I asked the DOTD to greatly expand the amount of money for public outreach," Setze said.

The next step comes in August after these open houses are completed in the five-parish region once money is in the picture. A general plan will be made. At that time discussions will be had about specifics on how and when these plans will go into action. It all remains open to the public.

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