Better Block BR to temporarily transform Government Street this weekend

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Better Block BR, a two-day demonstration project that will transform two blocks of Government Street into a walkable, bikeable, "complete street," will be taking place this weekend, April 13 and 14, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The installation will take place on the stretch of Government bookended by the Bedford Drive and Beverly Drive intersections. The event is free and open to the public.

Activities will include the following:

-Pop up businesses

-An outdoor café and art sale

-Kids' activities

-Interactive artwork

-A greenway

-Dedicated bike lanes and bike parking

-A biergarten

-Food trucks and pop up restaurants

-Yoga in the park

-Installations by the BR Walls project

-An information booth showing the advantages of walkable, bikeable, "complete streets"

The weekend events are being hosted by the Mayor's office of the City of Baton Rouge-Parish of East Baton Rouge, the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, Mid City Merchants, and Center for Planning Excellence. Better Block BR is a way to test new ideas for traffic calming, multi-modal transportation infrastructure, and business concepts in Mid City. Government Street was identified in the FutureBR Comprehensive Plan for East Baton Rouge Parish as being ripe for investment and growth.

The Government Street corridor is a prime location for this project because as the locals say, "it has good bones." This is a reference to the surrounding area having a robust street grid, compact and walkable residential neighborhoods, a nearby medical district, a thriving local business community, close access to downtown, LSU, and the interstate, and a host of educational institutions serving thousands of students of all ages.

Better Blocks BR coincides with Mayor Holden's Family Bike Day. Mayor-Holden and his wife Lois will lead the event on Saturday morning from the B'nai Israel Parking Lot (3354 Kleinert Avenue) from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. The ride is held each year, as part of the Mayor's Healthy City Initiative.

The growing list of partners helping create the Better Block BR demonstration includes the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the Mid-City Merchants, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, BREC, BR Walls Project, CBBR Inc, Foundation, East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, elbow/room, Launch Media, Makaira Landscape, PODS, and Santec. Project partners include 225 magazine, APALA, Baton Rouge Magnet High School, Big G's Nursery, Bricks and Bombs, Catholic High School, Coca Cola, Community Coffee, Domino's Pizza, Downtown Duplicating, Garden District Nursery, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Keep BR Beautiful, La Caretta, Lamar, Landscape Depot, Letterman's, LCASLA, Louisiana Office Supply Co., Mid City Bikes, Neighborland, Pro Print Screen Printing, Raising Cane's, and TrueValue.

For more information and to follow the progress of Better Block BR, visit betterblockbr.org and "Like" the project at facebook.com/betterblockbr. Inquiries can be emailed to betterblockbr@gmail.com.