Government Street set to get new look

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 7:14pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 9:07am

Government Street is getting a major makeover according to East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden. The plan calls for a change to the layout of the street, and business owners say they're excited about the plan.

"For Mid-City this is a rebirth to where people in the whole parish and even neighboring parishes will actually discover what has been hidden here for years," Gordon Mese, owner Garden District Nursery on Goverment Street, said.

Holden announced a plan to change the four lane street to three lanes from I-110 to Lobdell. The new plan calls for one lane in each direction with a turn lane and a bike lanes.

Last April people living in the area got a preview of what the new Government Street could look like. Now that changes are actually on the way they're happy.

Marsha Rish, owns a Honeymoon Bungalow on Government Street. She says the current layout makes it hard for customers to get to her business.

"There is huge signs on the front of my building that says parking in rear," Rish says. "They can't even slow down enough to look for where to go or to turn, because there is someone bearing down on them."

Business owners say bad driving and bad conditions on the road are a big problem.

On a rainy day I can sit outside and wait for the accident to happen, because the street is in such poor condition," Mese said. "... I call it sport driving because it is a three lane street that poses as a four lane street. There is always someone who is trying to get out of the way of that left turn. "

EBR officials said in a release: "According to state crash reports, Government Street typically sees about 270 crashes a year between the interstate and Jefferson Highway, most of them being rear end or left turn crashes and side swipes. "

Business owners say the new plan would help make the road safer for everybody.

"People who live here can safely walk ride bicycles walk there dogs without fear of getting ran down trying to cross over government," Rish said.

Bikers say it will make it easier for them to travel down Government.

"Everything works out great they spend more money everybody is happy, " Mike Martin, bicycling advocate, said. "You get less traffic from the cars more bikes better for everybody. "

City leaders hope the new plan will bring new faces to Government Street.

"We're calling on businesses if you are looking for a street to relocate on government street is your place," Holden said.

"It's going to increase everybody's bottom line up and down this street. It's going to put this street this part of the city on the map," Mese said. "....You're going to see all kinds of people just trying to get into any piece of property to start new business. It's going to be fantastic. "

Official say, "The project will cover Government Street from I-110 to Lobdell Avenue and is estimated to cost between $6 and $8 million, with 100 percent of the cost coming from state funds."

Official say construction should begin by the end of the year and be complete by the end of 2015.

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