Designing roadways with all users in mind certainly makes sense from a safety standpoint, but why else? As a policy priority of CONNECT, why are so many diverse advocates and groups pushing so hard for sidewalks, bike lanes and landscaping? For the 2,500 people who experienced April 13th’s Better Block BR Government Street demonstration, the answers to these questions were clear. Though bike lanes and sidewalks might in concept seem like the types of amenities used by a few die-hard cycling and pedestrian enthusiasts, or those without access to a vehicle, Saturday’s Better Block demonstration showed what a catalyst this kind of infrastructure can be for creating neighborhood vitality, successful small businesses, healthy lifestyles and diverse communities. By passing Complete Streets policies and implementing Complete Streets design concepts, residents not only have new modes of mobility, but also new venues for community, opportunities for public art, spaces for activities and conversations, and often a new neighborhood profile. To learn more about this amazing event, click here>
With the evolving medical districts underway in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans metros, the southeast Louisiana super region is positioned to be a world-class healthcare destination. To widen the conversation around this workforce and economic development opportunity, CONNECT hosted the leaders of the super region’s leading medical institutions at Xavier University on February 20th to discuss the long-term possibilities for connectivity between campuses and leveraging of resources to create and sustain the local economy. View the final report from this Medical District Policy Forum and learn more about this exciting event here>
As the state of Louisiana embarks on the latest update of the Statewide Transportation Plan, the CONNECT Coalitions’ Steering Committee is looking forward to its role on one of the plan’s Advisory Committees. To prepare for this position and explain our advocacy efforts around the plan thus far, CONNECT has issued a position paper on the plan outlining our transit, passenger rail, bicycle and pedestrian priorities, as well as highlighting a few of the partnerships we encourage DOTD to create to best leverage its investments. Download our Position Paper here and read more about the Statewide Transportation Plan update and CONNECT’s involvement here>
Thanks to the flexibility of our speakers, the generosity of our sponsors, and the hard work of our staff, Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) has been able to reschedule the 2012 Smart Growth Summit for November 26 – 28, the Monday through Wednesday immediately following the Thanksgiving holidays. The Louisiana Smart Growth Summit is an annual convening in downtown Baton Rouge of elected officials, engaged citizens and local, national, and international experts in community planning and growth. The 2012 summit will focus on the smart economics of Smart Growth featuring topics such as:
- Parks and Greenways
- Bike Infrastructure
- Art for Revitalization
- Water Management
- Transit and Housing
- Coastal Communities
- Green Building
- Rural Communities
- Economic Development
The summit will offer self-reporting continuing education credits for planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and realtors. Seven CLE credit hours will be available for attorneys, including two professionalism hours. Check out our brilliant lineup of speakers and reserve your spot today at http://summit.cpex.org
, for a list of CONNECT-related sessions, click here>
Through the continued efforts of CONNECT and our partners, the New Orleans-Baton Rouge passenger rail project continues to advance, with steps being taken to resolve questions of funding, operations and management. One particular victory of the past week is the formation of the Intrastate Rail Compact between the City of Baton Rouge and the City of New Orleans–a public-private entity charged with implementing rail across the super region. To support the future work of the Compact, the Capital Region Planning Commission and New Orleans Regional Planning Commission are conducting a Strategic Rail Plan. (Read more about both of these initiatives here.) But there is still an immediate need for CONNECT members and the general public to voice their support–the Statewide Rail Plan is currently underway by the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and an outpouring of public support is crucial to ensure this project is included in the plan and eligible for future funding. Complete and submit this survey now if you support the NO-BR rail>
Now is the time to let the state Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) know! DOTD is hosting three public meetings to provide an opportunity for public input into the development of the Louisiana State Rail Plan. Freight and passenger rail service will be included in the plan. Your comments will be welcomed as part of the planning process. Click here for a more information on the Statewide Transportation Plan, the public meeting schedule, and talking points for coalition members>
CONNECT, in partnership with AARP, held a walking audit in the New Orleans CBD on Friday, September 21. Walkability expert Dan Burden, who is Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, led 20 pedestrian participants to discuss the elements in street design that create safe, walkable and bikeable environments. Also discussed were features that can lead to an increase in parking supply, add value to property and turn spaces into places. The group was encouraged to identify the conditions, both good and bad, that create walkable communities and discuss solutions to implementing recently adopted Complete Streets policies. Check out more resources on Complete Streets on our CONNECT page and view photos of the walkabout with Dan on the CONNECT Facebook page.
In 2010 CONNECT polled residents of the super region to assess their interest in alternative transportation options—including biking and walking—within their communities. It was very exciting to see that of the 800 residents polled in and between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, 78% said that living in walkable neighborhoods where sidewalks provide easy access to work and friends was very important to them. Continue reading
This week’s 2012 Policy Forum was another great achievement for the CONNECT Coalition. Highlighting the successes and challenges of partners and transportation agencies, this year’s Forum built on last year’s successes and solidified CONNECT’s position as a convening body demanding accountability in transportation investments and decisions. View press from the event here, and presentations and notes from the Forum here.
And check out the keynote address from Ray Lang, Senior Director, Government Affairs at Amtrak right here:
Space is limited and registration is filling up quickly–sign up now for the free 2012 CONNECT Policy Forum at the Lod Cook Alumni Center in Baton Rouge, June 12th, 8:30-4:30. This year’s sessions will feature interactive discussions with panelists and allow ample time for audience questions; a full agenda for the day can be found here. Reserve you place now!