elise

West Baton Rouge

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The other day my husband and I were talking about downtown Baton Rouge and why it's not like other downtown areas. He pointed out that most downtowns are in the center of a town and everything grows around it. That way it's the core of the city, an equal distance from anywhere you travel and usually very easy to get to (he has problems with the way people built interstates/highways/main thoroughfares in BR, he's from NO). But Baton Rouge's downtown is butted up against the river and everything seemed to mainly grow east.

The conversation soon turned to West Baton Rouge and why it hasn't grown at the same rate.

I think that if West Baton Rouge was a more developed area it would help EBR, especially the downtown area. Every year during Mardi Gras, my husband and I drive from Marrero to Algiers, hop on the ferry and go run around the quarter. That's possible because they have enough people on the West Bank and enough stuff to do on the East Bank of the river to warrant a ferry trip from one side to the other.

So I was wondering, why hasn't WBR grown at the same rate as EBR and surrounding areas? How have they affected each other's development?

Why is it that so many people would rather live in Ascension or Livingston than WBR? I've been to Port Allen many times and it seems like such a nice place to live. We even looked for a house there once. So what gives?

Edited by elise

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I think a lot of it has to do with real or perceived traffic nightmares in crossing the bridges. Back in the 90's that was a real concern, until traffic on 12 became worse.

Now, I think a lot of it has to do with perception. I'll only speak for myself, but Port Allen/Westbank has always seemed like a grubby industrial town - not very attractive and quite polluted.

Nowadays it's so far from retail outlets and I think that hampers its residential growth.

But look at it this way, when it comes to the Mississippi River big cities, New Orleans is the exception for having built up on both sides of the river. Memphis and St. Louis are the same as BR - the "other" side of the river is in a completely different world.

But really you're only looking at one aspect of growth - population. WBR may not have been successful in that category, but in terms of infrastructure and employment bases, they've been hugely successful. Only looking at residential growth is kinda lopsided.

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Crappy schools has been a major hurdle for WBR, but there are many other reasons.

Schools:

Baton Rouge has been losing younger families for years. Those families have a choice of moving to West Baton Rouge and still having to pay tuition for a good school, or moving to Livingston and can move into a nice house with a big yard for a good price- and have one of the best public schools to boot.

Brusly is improving a lot. West Baton Rouge decided about a decade ago that it wanted good schools. It takes about that long for that struggle to pay off. Brusly is growing pretty quickly, though Port Allen's growth is mostly out on Rosedale road west of LA 415 (still only 10 minutes from downtown in heavy traffic). Port Allen High School is still pretty weak (though better than most in EBR school district), but Brusly high is pretty good and improving every year.

Infrastructure:

There are at least two dozen pipelines running through WBR, most of that is north of Port Allen. Those pipelines can't be built on or moved, so it makes laying out a subdivision more expensive. While the government gaurantees price floors for sugar cane, those land owners would rather keep growing cane than develop the area into a subidivision.

Also, there is only one way to get to the rapidly growing Brusly area from Baton Rouge, and that's LA 1....so that perception of bad traffic is warranted. Even though, I have driven from Brusly to the Galvez Building downtown in less than ten minutes. You can easily make it to LSU in 10 to 12 minutes even if you have traffic backed up on the bridge.

That traffic problem will change in two ways soon: widening I 10 and created two dedicated lanes from the 110/10 split on through the College Drive area will ease traffic on the bridge. Also, the LA415 expansion into Brusly will be a big help on the interstate backups between LA 415 and LA 1 in WBR.

Trust me on this: things are in motion that will open thousands of lots up for development over the next five years. Not included in these traditional subdivisions are also the TND going up near the foot of the bridge towards Brusly. There are massive industrial and commercial developments going up in WBR, so the jobs are there. There are probably as many folks commuting FROM Baton Rouge as there are TO Baton Rouge every day from WBR. The demand is there, it's just up to someone to develop the land. Notice the some of the developments in Brusly are high dollar, expensive homes. You get more for your money there, but people are still chosing to build massive homes- so the demand is there.

It would take another bridge to see a Livingston style boom there, but it will grow fairly stead over time.

Edited by brresident

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But look at it this way, when it comes to the Mississippi River big cities, New Orleans is the exception for having built up on both sides of the river. Memphis and St. Louis are the same as BR - the "other" side of the river is in a completely different world.

I was going to point to this as well.

Also, for years, WBR has been run by the sugar cane farmers. They did not want to give up the land to subdivisions. That is now changing. Take a ride down Hwy 1 in Brusly and Addis and you can see it.

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Well said yall, many great points...Addis was just incorporated; next to Brusly. That area has really started to take off, they have their own YMCA now. Much of the western area of WBR is part of the Atchafayala Basin; it will always stay undeveloped. A "TRUE" urban growth boundry. The extension of Hwy. 415 will help economic development tremendously!

It seems to me that people would just like to get away from the giant Exxon Refinery( U.S. 2nd largest) with it's funky odors. That's also some of the reason for lack of development "due-west" of Exxon. And made it easier for residents to originally flock to established subdivisions in the 60's, 70's, 80's to Villa del Rey, Park Forest, Monticello, Broadmoor, Cedarcrest, Sherwood Forest, etc, etc. long before Livingston, Ascension, Zachary became the new suburban meccas.

Edited by richyb83

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^Oh yeah...just wanted to add this from yesterday's reply about your comment on downtown BR.

TRUE Elise! Downtown BR being butted up against the Miss. River + the Exxon Refinery just to the north cuts-off downtown even more. This does put downtown BR at a disadvantage..esp. when compared to most cities downtowns being in the geographical center like you said; Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Birmingham, etc.

Could you imagine if downtown BR was in the center of the city around Independence Park/Bonne Carre or even Towne Center??? That would set the stage for a more vibrant downtown! Not to mention you would be able to see the State Capitol from almost anywhere in the city limits :shades:

Edited by richyb83

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I always wondered why Port Allen was stale and dead, that is way too close to downtown to be so suburban and country. Even though it is 1 mile away from downtown the place is so disconnected. Transportation plays a lot in the lack of development, not enough options to cross the water, no bus transportation or ferry. I still feel the parish is wide open for upscale living, shopping, and entertainment, just someone has to take a chance and wake that side of the water up. Entirely too much open land, to be wasted. One day....

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If these huge developments get off the ground? This could egnite the expolsive growth for WBR. Like Louisiana Studio City and this planned project * Posted a couple of weeks ago.

California biotech company picks WBR to build 140,000-square-foot research facility. I don't know anything about this group. Hopefully they're legit. Great news for WBR if true, especially when combined with the planned studio.

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/business/10421242.html

I like the idea of a ferry coming back to connect WBR with EBR! Pinnacle should seriously consider WBR too instead of suburban Nicholson/Gardere/Bluebonnet.

Brusly/Addis has really taken off with new development. The schools are good and the new Sugar Mill TND anchored by YMCA is a nice development.

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Firm to study toll road potential

The La. 1 connector route is a project Berthelot has been pushing for more than a decade.

The parish president said he believes the proposed roadway, estimated to cost $30 million, would help reduce traffic congestion caused by vehicles using the existing Port Allen bridge across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Berthelot said about 44,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily in a parish that has a population of 24,000 people.

The proposed toll road, or connector route, initially would consist of two lanes able to handle about 12,000 vehicles per day, he said. Additional lanes could be added as traffic volume increases, Berthelot added.

http://theadvocate.com/home/2790412-125/firm-to-study-toll-road

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Hopefully this will play out like the Central Thruway did; where common sense finally prevailed when Kip Holden changed the plan from 2-lanes to 4...

The La. 1 Connector would be less than 4 miles long with a major bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway....4 lanes seems like a no-brainer with La.1 being a major Hurricane Evacuation Route

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Hopefully this will play out like the Central Thruway did; where common sense finally prevailed when Kip Holden changed the plan from 2-lanes to 4...

The La. 1 Connector would be less than 4 miles long with a major bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway....4 lanes seems like a no-brainer with La.1 being a major Hurricane Evacuation Route

I thought this project had secured funding from the state and wouldn't be a toll road.

Either way, white collar suburban development on the west bank is key to supporting downtown commercial growth.

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Two lanes makes no sense. Go ahead and build with 4 lanes now!

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Two lanes makes no sense. Go ahead and build with 4 lanes now!

Correct.

LA1 is vital to the entire region. It is dissapointing that any redundancy hasn't been built into the system. There are so many trucks and commercial vehicles on that route with all of the manufacturing there.

4 lanes is a must. If they can't do that, at least make the bridge wide enough to accommodate that.

You'd at least have one site with major road, rail, and water access for future industry.

What is the likelyhood of a ferry between Brusly and the Brightside drive area?

Edited by cajun

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Correct.

LA1 is vital to the entire region. It is dissapointing that any redundancy hasn't been built into the system. There are so many trucks and commercial vehicles on that route with all of the manufacturing there.

4 lanes is a must. If they can't do that, at least make the bridge wide enough to accommodate that.

You'd at least have one site with major road, rail, and water access for future industry.

What is the likelyhood of a ferry between Brusly and the Brightside drive area?

Likely if the WB ever highly develops like Ascension and Livingston.

If we receive more cargo and therefore more jobs near the ports we will most likely see that happen.

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What happened to that proposed bridge that was suppose to cross near Brusly? That needed to happened like yesterday.

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What happened to that proposed bridge that was suppose to cross near Brusly? That needed to happened like yesterday.

Perhaps a ferry service needs to begin first. Although a bridge would serve its purpose well near Brusly/Brightside.

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What happened to that proposed bridge that was suppose to cross near Brusly? That needed to happened like yesterday.

Ibberville wouldn't cooperate with route selection if the bridge was not in ibberville parish.

Since the loop route would have to cross Ibberville on the east side of the river and there were no decent crossing options but Brusly/Addis to EBR, the project failed.

Not sure if a Ferry would work. It takes about 15 minutes to load, 15 to unload, and another 15 to cross the channel and dock......so it is up to a 45 minute affair to cross the river.

You'd need two boats to have a max wait time of 30 minutes.

Edited by cajun

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Yeah it amounts to extending Hwy 415 in WBR south across the Intracoastal Canal and having the bridge in Brusly/Addis...but they do not want it.....If it ever happened; after the crossing the bride their is plenty of undeveloped/lower land that would not disrupt neighbrhoods; staying far enough away from River Bend....then having it dog-leg to Hwy 30(Nicholson) paralelling it next to new Pinnacle casino then going out to Tanger Mall area...that would make for a nice south-by pass....it would also not disrupt the Spanish Lake/Bluff Swamp preserve....NOLA Hurricane evacuees would appreciate the new route too!

I (posted) drew a map on this a while back...can't locate it

Edited by richyb83

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West Baton Rouge housing growth nears record levels

 

West Baton Rouge Parish is headed toward a residential growth spurt this year it hasn’t experienced since post-Hurricane Katrina.

 

A majority of West Baton Rouge’s growth since 2000 has been concentrated in the unincorporated north end of the parish — including the Erwinville and Rosehill communities — and in the towns of Addis and Brusly.

 

Some of Brusly’s residential growth can be attributed to the aggressive development of its popular Orleans West subdivision while Addis’ Sugar Mill community has been driving its growth numbers.

 

Recently announced plant expansions at Dow Chemical Co. in Plaquemine and Shintech sites in Plaquemine and Addis are also driving the parish’s home construction boom.

 

The daily traffic congestion along La. 1, from plant employees crossing the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge and Mississippi River Bridge into East Baton Rouge Parish, is the final factor in the residential growth equation, parish officials said. Durbin said many plant workers are opting to live in West Baton Rouge Parish to shorten their daily commutes.

 

For the past several years, Berthelot has worked to get state funding to build a connector road between La. 1 and La. 415 to help dilute the afternoon traffic flow along La. 1.

 

“We are getting an awful lot of traffic on this side of the (Mississippi River) bridge. Something is going to have to be done,” Berthelot said. “As these plants continue to expand we’ll need to improve our infrastructure to keep pace with that.”

 

*rest of article

http://theadvocate.com/home/7452774-125/west-baton-rouge-housing-growth

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That Intracoastal Canal bridge is the weak link for the entire West Side. It is sure to fail one of these days, I'm afraid. Heavy industrial traffic routinely backs up onto the northbound span. You take your life into your hands on that thing...

 

Time to get moving on the 415 extension. That or build a new LA 1 bridge already. 

Edited by garrett_225
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West Baton Rouge finds commercial development elusive; wetlands, population size seen among factors                                                                        Large swaths of wetlands, agricultural interests cited                                                                  PORT ALLEN West Baton Rouge Parish’s industrial development thrived over the years thanks in large part to its close proximity to the Mississippi River.

But the kind of residential and commercial growth that exploded across the river to the east and south of Louisiana’s capital city has eluded West Baton Rouge. Parish leaders had to work hard to land a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Port Allen a few years ago and considered that a major coup.

Elected officials and business leaders in West Baton Rouge say they’d like to see more retail stores and other commercial development in the state’s smallest parish. But, they say that it’s unlikely to happen any time soon due to a variety of factors.

Although 80 percent of the land in the parish is undeveloped, much of that is designated wetlands, which is prohibitively expensive to develop. In addition, a small number of families own thousands of acres of agricultural land that they have little interest in selling off to become the backdrop for a big-name retailer.

Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot said those two factors make it highly unlikely any of the parish’s undeveloped land will be available any time soon to expand the parish’s industrial and commercial base.

“It’s going to take some time for us to catch up,” Berthelot said. “West Baton Rouge still has that hometown/rural feel, and a lot of people don’t want to see anyone else move in.”

But he adds, “And then there are those who want to see more big-box stores. If we were maybe 20 miles away from Baton Rouge, we’d have a lot of those things popping up here.”

Berthelot said it took some heavy convincing seven years ago to get Wal-Mart to open a new Supercenter along La. 1.

“We had to prove to them we had a lot of traffic here,” he said. “They’re doing quite well now and we were finally able to capture a lot of the dollars that were going across the river.”

The need for more commercial development is a conversation driven mainly by the increasing daily traffic woes along La. 1 as folks commute back and forth to work and/or into Baton Rouge for retail shopping, fine dining or evening entertainment.

Traffic will only get worse as residential growth in the parish continues, with new subdivisions popping up along La. 1 in the Addis and Brusly areas.

More households will give commercial developers greater incentive to build, but Scott Gaudin, chairman of the Board of Directors for the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, said the parish’s household count still falls short of where it needs to be to attract more retail businesses.

“West Baton Rouge is somewhere around 25,000 households. Typically, developers like that number to be higher than that — more like 75,000,” Gaudin said. “If there was a retailer or commercial prospect looking at West Baton Rouge, we’re open to discussion. We just haven’t had many inquiries to speak of.”

While low household count is one obstacle, another is the fact that nearly half of the parish’s undeveloped land is designated wetlands.

Cletus Langlois, an engineer with Patin Engineers and Surveyors, said developers are normally reluctant to buy wetland property because it can cost as much as $100,000 an acre in additional wetland mitigation costs.

“When you do something that destroys wetlands, you have to purchase mitigation credits from people who set aside property to preserve plant life and trees,” Langlois said.

Typically, for every acre of land, developers must obtain 2 1/2 credits — or acres — of wetland bank.

“If you are looking at 100 acres and a property owner says 75 acres of it is wetlands, it’s pretty much unusable,” he said. “You’re doubling your costs.”

Another 30 percent of undeveloped land in West Baton Rouge is owned by private landowners — one of them being the Laws family, which has claim to nearly 9,000 acres of farmland in the parish.

“Personally, we don’t want to sell land,” said Drew Maciasz, president and CEO of Harry L. Laws and Co. in Brusly. “We do have a lot of agricultural land. That’s our flagship. That’s our business.”

In addition to its holdings in West Baton Rouge, the family-owned firm also owns agricultural property in Iberville and St. Mary parishes.

Maciasz said the company isn’t opposed to development but has an obligation to the local farmers to whom it leases its property.

“Development is great and there’s a place for that, (but) in today’s world, we need people producing crops,” he said. “If we do ever transition our land to another use, it would be done in methods we would like and what would be beneficial to the community rather than just selling it off to the highest bidder.”

The opposite is happening in St. James Parish, where officials say farmers’ and landowners’ willingness to cash in on their wide-open spaces have made it possible for the area to attract several multimillion-dollar industrial developments this year.

“Our farmers are making a living and doing well. But if the price is right, they’ll sell tomorrow,” said Steve Nosacka, the mayor of Gramercy and economic consultant for St. James Parish. “However, our situation is a little different since we do have farmers that own sizable tracts of land, but no one family or group owns huge chunks of acreage.”

In the meantime, Berthelot said, the parish is prepared to work with the smaller parcels of undeveloped land that are open for development.

He said the parish plans to use more than $7 million in surplus funds to install infrastructure and access roads on a small tract of land along La. 415, near Interstate 10, in Port Allen.

“We want to get it to a point where a developer can come in and see what they might be able to do with it,” Berthelot said.

And Gaudin says the Chamber is hoping a proposed mixed-use development that combines residential and commercial into walkable communities similar to River Ranch in Lafayette can finally come to fruition after being in limbo for several years.

“There’s room for everyone. I don’t think anyone wants to live in an area where it’s all just one thing,” Gaudin said.  http://theadvocate.com/news/13647403-87/west-baton-rouge-finds-commercial       jpeg

                              

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Posted (edited)

Hwy 415 needs to be expanded to connect La.Hwy 1..w new Intracoastal Bridge

Port Allen eyes westward expansion through annexations

City officials hope to draw in about 200 acres of undeveloped land along Court Street — between Allendale Drive and Turner Road. City leaders also have set their sights on a residential community of about 75 properties adjacent to the undeveloped land between Rosedale Dale Road and Louisiana Avenue. The community adds about 30 acres to the city’s targeted area for growth.

“We’re basically landlocked to the south and north and we have the (Mississippi) river to the east,” the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Adrian Genre said in an interview before Monday night’s meeting. “The only chance for significant development is to look to the west of us.”

http://theadvocate.com/news/16233034-123/port-allen-eyes-westward-expansion-through-annexations

Edited by richyb83

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On 5/12/2012 at 10:46 PM, richyb83 said:

The La. 1 Connector would be less than 4 miles long with a major bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway....4 lanes seems like a no-brainer with La.1 being a major Hurricane Evacuation Route

I really hope they are so short sighted as to make this a two lane road with no turn lanes, open ditches, and less than 125' of right of way. 

It's going to be a major freight route.  Good grief. 

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