Both the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and CRISIS, a business coalition created to fight traffic, announced support this week for a half-cent sales tax for road improvements that Baton Rouge voters will face on the Dec. 8 ballot.
The tax is part of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s MOVEBR proposal, which would raise $912 million for more than 60 road projects across the parish that would add lanes, synchronize traffic lights, pave sidewalks and more. The 30-year tax would tack an extra 25 cents onto $50 purchases and an additional $2.50 on $500 purchases.
BRAC staffers lent their support to the tax plan shortly after Broome announced it and revealed the project list, but the chamber’s board had not taken an official position on it. BRAC cited many reasons for its support of the tax, including the baked in project list that cannot change unless voters alter it, an important widening of Nicholson Drive and the quality-of-life improvements like sidewalks.
“Business leaders regularly and consistently cite traffic as their primary barrier to business and growth here in the Capital Region,” BRAC CEO Adam Knapp said in a news release. “Not only will the increased capacity brought by MoveBR cut that barrier, it will create additional economic impacts of its own through the 3,000 estimated jobs created by the projects and the value of the time saved from both people and goods sitting in traffic.”
CRISIS cited a Metropolitan Planning Commission study that showed the combined 60 plus projects in MOVEBR would relieve more congestion than any single megaproject in Baton Rouge. CRISIS also applauded projects in the plan to widen most of Airline Highway throughout Baton Rouge and to improve Florida Boulevard.
“We must enhance our key corridors, said CRISIS Chairman and Mexichem Plant Manager, John Pacillo. “Providing alternative routes to the interstates by freely moving traffic on our surface streets will improve the quality of life in our area.”