Reconnecting America Supports New Orleans and Baton Rouge “Super Region” In Pursuit Of Improved Transit And TOD
In 2011, Reconnecting America developed a three-part series of briefs on the opportunity for New Orleans and Baton Rouge to develop an integrated, regional transportation network that supports strong communities and improves opportunity for the residents and businesses of southern Louisiana. The briefs were written for CONNECT, a coalition of public and private sector organizations that work across the New Orleans and Baton Rouge regions to advocate for expanded mobility choices that offer improved access to affordable homes, job centers and equitable economic opportunity. The CONNECT Coalition is a project of the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX), a nonprofit that helps create highly functional, equitable communities throughout Louisiana by supporting community members and leaders as they work toward a shared vision for future growth and development.
Brief 1: One Great Region
This introductory brief sets the stage for a new level of “super regional” coordination on issues of transportation and land use in southern Louisiana. The brief argues that when neighboring jurisdictions compete against one another for jobs and new development, or plan transportation systems that aren’t complimentary, they perpetuate a cycle of regional congestion and wasteful spending. One Great Region discusses the three “key ingredients” that will be needed in order to build a sustainable super region: improving the link between the state’s two largest metro areas by launching commuter rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans; improving local and regional transit within parishes, and; aligning investments and policies to build affordable, walkable transit-oriented communities. The report uses national data to explain how these three areas of planning and investment could reduce congestion, support a strong regional economy and improve equity in greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Brief 2: Connected and Ready to Compete
The second brief in the series is focused on the economic advantages that coordinated planning and improved transportation choices could bring to the Baton Rouge and New Orleans super region. The brief shares national data and case studies on how improved transit can create opportunity for real estate development and help businesses attract and access the workforce they need. It also discusses how coordinated transportation and land use planning can help governments and communities see a higher return from public investments. Connected and Ready to Compete makes the case that investing in transit and walkable, vibrant communities is essential to maintaining a region’s economic competitiveness, and argues that the public and private sectors must work together to build a sustainable and equitable super region.
Brief 3: Getting from Here to There
The final brief in the series, Getting from Here to There outlines specific guiding principles and actions that the super region can take to advance the proposed commuter rail line, improve transit and support walkable, affordable, transit-oriented communities. The six next steps discussed in the report include:
- Conducting education and outreach on the benefits of transit and TOD
- Developing a commuter rail implementation strategy
- Forming a Regional Rail Advisory Council
- Prioritizing Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements
- Creating a Strategic Plan for Transit-Oriented Development
- Conducting a Cost-Benefit Analysis for Mobility in the Super Region