POSTED: Saturday, April 13, 2013 - 8:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 10:38am
BATON ROUGE,LA (NBC33) — The Better Block BR projected hosted a live demonstration Saturday to show how changes to Government Street could help revitalize the area. The group used plants and cones to make the street into two lanes of traffic with a turn lane. The group also added more crosswalks and a bike lane to make it easier to get around the area.
"We are all coming together as a community making a statement saying we can improve this block. We can do something that benefits not just businesses but the residents and everyone that is coming through Baton Rouge," Annie Graham, who participated in the event, explained.
The idea is to make the busy street more of a destination spot in the city. The Better Block BR group took suggestions from the community to build the mockup of "new" government street.
Cyclist Kat Harris knows first hand how hard it can be to get around Government. Harris normally avoids the high traffic area to take safer routes. She says the new bike lane could help her feel safe riding in that area.
"To be able to just ride my bike and not have to worry about getting run over is all I can ask for at this point," Harris described. "I've lived in this neighborhood for 20 years, so it's nice to see concerned citizens out actually doing something instead of just talking about it."
Marsanne Golsby, president of the Ogden Civic Association, said the street's new look makes it more attractive to families and business. She explained Government Street has the potential to become a destination like New Orleans Magazine street.
"That's just nothing but good. That's higher property values. That's more fun attracting the creative class," Golsby said. "You add in something like this and people are really going to want to live here."
"I think it's great. Having an eclectic art scene in Baton Rouge is exactly what we need. The scene is already set. It just needs the push to get it all in motion. That's what this is doing," Graham said.
Graham set up a "pop up shop" for the event. She believes the changes to the street make it easier for everyone to get around. She thinks it could help get a diverse group of customers to frequent local business.
The problem is the changes are only temporary.
"If we can do this with a little bit of preparation with some pop up shops and a quick weekend, then imagine the possibilities that we could do permanently if the city actually came in and started doing renovations," Graham stated.
People living in the area want the street's new look to last.
"We want this project yesterday, that's how good it is," Golsby demanded.
"All the local business owners want us to be able to have a good accessible place, so it would be nice if that was the case," Harris agreed.
To learn more about the Better Block BR project click here.