Only Sure Way to Stop Loop: Repeal Statute

By Woody Jenkins

CENTRAL — For the past three years, the Central City News has put the spotlight on the proposed Baton Rouge Loop.  Using Louisiana’s Public Records Law, we have brought you internal Loop documents that have shown:

• The cost of building the Loop, based on their own studies, would be closer to $6 billion, rather than the $4 billion the Loop states publicly.

• The Loop’s internal documents show there is no possible way to make the Loop self-supporting.  Even at a cost of $4 billion, the cost of financing that debt at five percent interest would be $200 million a year.  At the projected 10 percent rate suggested in Loop studies, it would be $400 million a year.  Yet, projected toll revenues would be well under $15 million a year — a fraction of the required amount.

• The Loop’s traffic studies, which we revealed in the Central City News, show the Loop would have no impact on traffic on I-10 in Baton Rouge and minimal impact on I-12 from Baton Rouge to Livingston.

So what’s it really all about?

On the surface, money.  Money now for engineering firms, land use planning firms, and public relations firms, and money later for big contractors.

For Central, construction of a Loop across our community would be devastating and would bring crime, overdevelopment, and urban problems.  Predictably, people in Central are strongly against the Loop.  Unfortunately, at the Central City News, we have been very naive about the Loop.  On the one hand, we have understood that the people of Baton Rouge would buy the pabulum served up by Mayor-President Kip Holden, the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, and the Baton Rouge media that the Loop was a great thing.  We suspected people in Baton Rouge would mindlessly welcome the Loop idea without any significant scrutiny or analysis.

But we have had confidence that the staunch opposition by the people of Central and by the people in the parishes surrounding Baton Rouge would carry the day and stop the Loop.  After the resignation from the Loop commission of the parish presidents of Livingston, Ascension, and Iberville, we thought the Loop was dead.

But we were very wrong.  Mike Bruce of ABMB Engineering and the Loop staff, spelled out their plan very clearly in the Sunday Advocate:

• They are going to seek a permit to build the Loop from the Federal Highway Administration.

• After they get that permit this summer, they are going to use it to line up the funding for the project from a “private” investor.  That would probably be China, which has been courted by Kip Holden.

At that point, what people in Central think won’t make much difference.

China has the money and is buying up projects like this around the world.  Think of the power and influence the Chinese Communists would have over Baton Rouge and Central, if they were in command of this project.  Multiply that times 1,000 to understand what China is doing to buy control across the globe.

The only way to stop this project for sure is for the legislature to repeal the legal authority of the Capital Area Expressway Authority to exist.  We call upon our legislators to introduce and pass this in the coming legislative session.

Country Living in the City by Woody Jenkins

Copyright 2011 by Central City News


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