The Advocate: Keys to East Baton Rouge road tax proposal? Flood-weary residents, safety fixes for school areas

While he stood in a church Thursday that flooded with 2 feet of water last August, city-parish Director of Transportation and Drainage Fred Raiford tried to explain why City Hall is pushing for a roads tax as people bombarded him with questions about drainage.

Raiford made one of his first pitches to the public Thursday on Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's proposed "Better Transportation and Roads" tax initiative. He spoke to a group of residents in north Baton Rouge, many of them flood-weary, at the newly rebuilt United Christian Faith Ministries.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's proposed Better Roads and Transportation tax passed i…

Broome has proposed a 5-mill property tax for 43 projects to widen roads, lessen congestion and improve mobility for people across Baton Rouge. About $445.5 million generated from the tax would go toward the projects, while her administration is also asking voters to rededicate a half-cent sales tax to pay for more street overlays, road repairs and debt from bonds.

Raiford spoke of the importance of widening Mickens Road from Hooper Road to Lanier Drive, as the street is one of the best-known in the Metro Council district where the Thursday meeting was hosted. The $15 million Mickens improvement would give the road three lanes with sidewalks.

Mickens is unsafe in its current form, without any sidewalks, given the number of schools and churches in the area, Raiford said.

Theresa Haynes, who attended the meeting, said she plans to vote for the tax because traffic is atrocious. She moved to Baton Rouge from Germany, where she was completing U.S. military service, and said one of the culture shocks has been the lack of bike-friendly roads in Baton Rouge.

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