The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX), with support from the Surdna, Ford and Greater New Orleans Foundations, has commissioned Reconnecting America to draft a series of policy briefs that explores the ingredients and strategies for a sustainable “super-region” between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. By defining what the super-region is in the first brief, why regional coordination is crucial for a successful Louisiana economy in the second brief, and outlining specific strategies for how the state’s leading metro areas can more effectively collaborate in the third brief, this series will not only continue to bolster the work of the CONNECT Coalition, but also bring new perspectives and data to the conversation.
Brief 1: One Great Region
This first brief focuses on thinking super regionally and finds that when neighboring jurisdictions compete against one another for jobs and new development, or plan transportation systems that aren’t complementary, they perpetuate a cycle of regional congestion and wasteful spending.
One Great Region explores how a well-functioning and interconnected regional transportation system can bring metro areas significant economic and social benefits if it is well integrated with a regionally coordinated land use plan linking transit, housing, people and opportunities. Key strategies laid out in this brief include identifying champions, conducting education and outreach, coordinating regional planning efforts and adopting local policies that encourage transit-oriented development.
Brief 2: Connected and Ready to Compete
The second of CONNECT’s policy briefs looks specifically at the economic advantages of coordinated regional planning between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Recognizing the region’s current shortcomings–such as congestion and insufficient infrastructure–this brief outlines the ways businesses and governments will benefit from greater collaboration between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Through graphic illustrations, national best practices, and opinions of high-profile leaders in the super region, Connected shows how integrated plans and investments allow business and industry to increase productivity and innovation, expand and diversify their labor pool, create opportunities for real estate development, and increase tourism. Similarly, this brief explores the corresponding advantages to governments and communities, such as higher economic returns, greater return on public investments, and increased public revenues through heightened property values.
Brief 3: Getting from Here to There
The third and final brief of this series takes the vision defined in One Great Region and the benefits highlighted in Connected and Ready to Compete and presents six crucial strategies for bringing a comprehensive, equitable and effective transportation system to the super region.
Getting from Here to There recognizes that success is only possible when unlikely groups work together, and this brief suggests the players who should be collaborating on each step. Recommendations in the brief include maintaining an educational campaign on the benefits of transit and TOD, developing a commuter rail implementation strategy, forming a regional rail advisory council, prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian investments, creating a strategic plan for TOD, and conducting a cost-benefit analysis for mobility in the super region.