Loop Vote: Central Wants to Stay Central

Loop Vote: Central Wants to Stay Central

CENTRAL — Building the Baton Rouge Loop across Central is about as popular in this community as turning Central Middle School into a land-based casino.

Only one person in Central has been willing to say he’s for the Loop — Wade Giles, the chairman of the private Central Economic Development Foundation.

On the other hand, more than 1,200 Central residents turned out against the Loop at a public meeting at Zoar Baptist Church.

In addition, more than 1,000 Central citizens have written letters or other comments against the proposed Loop.  As citizens have filed comments with the Capital Area Expressway Authority, they have sent copies of their letters to the Central City News, and we  have compiled all of those letters into binders.  We presented them to the Central City Council at Tuesday night’s Council meeting and showed the Council copies of the bound volumes we will present to the Federal Highway Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Capital Area Expressway Authority.  The Central City News will also present copies of these volumes to other key officials, so that they will know the sentiments of the people of Central.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Councilman Wayne Messina offered a resolution to state the official position of the City of Central as opposing the Loop — something that had not heretofore been done. After a long debate, the Council voted in favor of Messina’s resolution by a vote of 3 to 2.

Those voting and speaking in favor of the resolution were Mayor Pro-Tem Ralph Washington and Councilmen Messina and Tony LoBue.  Councilmen Louis DeJohn and Aaron Moak forcefully spoke and voted against the resolution.

So, with such overwhelming opposition from the public, why was the vote so close?

The opponents of the resolution said they weren’t for or against the Loop.  They said they just wanted more time to study it, to see if there’s anything good in it.

That’s truly amazing.  The Capital Area Expressway Authority has already spent more than $6 million and five years “studying” the Loop.  Their “study” has shown several things: 1) The Loop would cost $4.6 to $6 billion, 2) The tolls collected would pay for only a small portion of the cost of construction and operation of the Loop, and 3) Their own traffic studies show the Loop would result in no significant reduction in traffic on I-10 or I-12.

The staff of the Loop is very adamant in telling anyone who will listen that the only feasible route for the Loop is straight across the heart of Central.

Meanwhile, the State of Louisiana has a backlog of $12 to $14 billion in unmet highway transportation needs, which have been documented and placed in DOTD’s Highway Priority Program — which the Loop is not part of, because DOTD has never thought it worthy of being included.

The Parish Presidents of Livingston, Ascension, and Iberville parishes “studied” the Loop for four years as members of the Board of the Loop. Then they threw up their hands and said this is a boondoggle that should not be built!

Yet, some people want to fiddle around and “study” the Loop further.  The study has already been done!

Now, we are at a critical moment — The Federal Highway Administration will receive comments on the proposed Loop only through Jan. 23, 2012 for Tier I approval.

Now is not the time for more endless study but for taking a position — before the FHWA grants approval for the project.

With the tremendous public opposition to the Loop in Central, the failure of the Council to pass Councilman Messina’s resolution would have been a statement that it doesn’t really matter what most people want or believe.  On the other hand, the passage of the resolution is a reaffirmation that Central wants to retain its lifestyle — Country Living in the City.

Our congratulations to Councilmen LoBue, Messina, and Washington for representing the views of the overwhelming majority of the people of Central.


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