OUT TO LUNCH finds Baton Rouge Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel combining her hard news journalist skills and food background: conducting business over lunch. Baton Rouge has long had a storied history of politics being conducted over meals, now the Capital Region has an equivalent culinary home for business: Mansur’s. Each week Stephanie holds court over lunch at Mansur’s and invites members of the Baton Rouge business community to join her. You can also hear the show on WRKF 89.3FM.
Whether you live in Baton Rouge, work in Baton Rouge or just pass through Baton Rouge every now and then, you have experienced the Capital Region’s notorious gridlock. Baton Rouge ranks among the very worst mid-sized cities in the nation for traffic congestion.
Business leaders last year in a Chamber survey listed traffic as the single-biggest problem facing Baton Rouge. The issue commanded a lot of attention last year during the governor’s race and there has been a lot of talk about what could and should be done.
But will anything happen?
On this edition of Out to Lunch Stephanie talks with three of the Capital Region’s most seasoned experts on this subject. They each have a unique perspective on this overwhelming problem and have all put a lot of thought into how to solve it.
Scott Kirkpatrick, an attorney and lobbyist with Roedel Parsons, cut his teeth in the offices of former U.S Sen. John Breaux, former Congressman Richard Baker, and former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. With his government affairs background, Scott has found himself at the helm of a group that’s trying to address Capital Region gridlock. It’s called the Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, or CRISIS. Scott and his colleagues on the committee have fashioned a wish list of big-ticket infrastructure projects and are now working on ways to make at least some of them a reality.
Perry Franklin is president and founder of Franklin Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in community outreach, community affairs, redevelopment and transportation issues. Lately, Perry has been spearheading a series of community meetings about the widening of interstate 10 in Baton Rouge, the first step in a lengthy process the federal government requires before undertaking any such project. Perry has his finger on the pulse of the community with respect to this issue.
Wilfred Barry is president of the SJB Group, a local engineering firm that offers turnkey services in land surveying, parks and planning, site development, utility systems and transportation, among other things. Wilfred is also a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, who has given a lot of thought to the region’s transportation woes and has some interesting insights on the issue.
If you've sat in Baton Rouge traffic cursing the bumper-to-bumper speed you're crawling along at, this conversation will only get you across the old bridge. But it contains answers that will take us into the rest of the 21st Century.