The following includes a number of projects which seek to positively transform areas within a city with sub-urban characteristics into vibrant urban places more befitting the term “city.”
[The latest projects are at the bottom, while projects that began at an earlier time are at the top.]
Providing the framework for America’s next great city: a light rail transit system as a catalyst for sustainable urbanity
(above and below): The light rail system proposal maps are early stage plans and are intended to start a constructive dialogue about the many issues involved with such an expansive project.
The rail lines would mainly be street cars with segments of express railway in the median of larger roads, and travel through and connect “Densification Districts” which would be areas of intensive, high density mixed use development. These districts should be completely walkable, intently developed seeds of sustainable urban density (minimum 7 dwelling units/acre and mixing of diverse commercial, all oriented toward pedestrians and the transit stops). Over time, the points of sustainable density will become a web of sustainable density.
The draft plan as of August 2011 (bottom two maps) embraces the great potential for dense infill along the Florida Blvd corridor and the Government Street corridor. These areas have been identified by the Future BR plan as the smartest, most easily and quickly transformable areas of Baton Rouge. Also outlined in the Future BR plan, bus transit will be greatly enhanced, which would integrate with the light rail and service the voids in rail service.
With 12 trains per line (6 each direction), waiting times at stops should be between 5-10 minutes.
(above): Example of densification at the northern edge of LSU’s campus.
(above and below): Example light rail stops. Remember, this site is run by an architectural designer first, and urban planner second. So, expect to see not only urban plans, but sample components of those plans visually presented.
Your input is valued. Leave comments about your routine Baton Rouge destinations, rail line logistical/route issues, aesthetic issues, urban condition concerns, etc.
Baton Rouge – New Orleans High Speed MagLev; Baton Rouge Terminal Transit Oriented Development
The line would be primarily situated along the median of I-10. The median of I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans offers already cleared land, and because it is mostly straight with few and gentle turns, the train would be able to reach top speed for much of the distance. (The proposed train would reach 250 – 280 mph). With two lines beside eachother and one train per line, there would be a train departing every 40 minutes (it would take 40 minutes to travel from one end of the line to the other). For this high speed connection to be feasible, it must be able to transport people faster than or equal to the time it would take to drive. There is a significant amount of people living and working along the proposed line and many people in Baton Rouge regularly commute to New Orleans for entertainment and/or business. Ridership would also come from the thrill of traveling at 250 – 280 mph.
The proposal calls for the following stops: Baton Rouge (Perkins/Acadian), Gonzales, Laplace, New Orleans International Airport, New Orleans CBD/French Quarter (Tulane Ave/Loyola Ave).
Why these locations? Baton Rouge (Perkins/Acadian): High visibility from I-10; heavy traffic area; proximity to Louisiana State University; existing and potential residential and commercial composition of immediate area favors high patronage. Gonzales (I-10/Hwy 30): collection point for commuters, high visibility from I-10. Laplace (I-10/Hwy 51): collection point for commuters, high visibility from I-10. New Orleans International Airport (Airline Hwy/Airport Rd): Airport. New Orleans CBD/French Quarter (Tulane Ave/Loyola Ave): Walkable access to French Quarter, Central Business District, LSU Medical District, and Superdome.
New Orleans is breaking ground on a Loyola Ave streetcar line in early 2011 and later will also construct a N. Rampart St streetcar line. This exciting development makes the downtown New Orleans stop on the MagLev line extraordinarily feasible and desirable.
Work in progress on the Baton Rouge terminal development.
Work in progress on the Baton Rouge Terminal: The terminal will consist of the MagLev station, and an interchange hub between the Maglev, Blue Line, and Purple Line. The terminal will also serve as the MagLev logistical center and Maglev train maintenance house. Most of the terminal’s exterior translucent panels could be photovoltaic. The overall rail line proposal calls for embedding photovoltaic panels on all of the MagLev train’s monorail to help or possibly completely power the MagLev trains with solar power.
Work in progress on the transit oriented development adjacent to the Maglev Terminal:
The Proposal is for 16 1BR apartments, 26 2BR apartments, 30 3BR apartments, 8-10 retail units at 2000sf each, 20000 sf of class A office space, 100 room hotel, and a 700 space parking garage for the transit commuters, hotel guests, and office workers (garage to have recreational rooftop). The MagLev train maintenance complex originally planned will be moved from this proposed site to either Gonzales or Laplace. In its place will be a dedicated MagLev transit commuter parking facility (900 spaces).
Some of the 3BR apartments will be street side town houses, and most of the 2BR and 3BR units will be in a high rise tower (portions shown above) which will provide views of downtown, LSU, and the Perkins and Corporate Blvd areas.
(above): In focus is 20000 square feet of office with ground floor retail and two penthouse 3BR apartments on Acadian Thruway; also on Acadian are the 3BR Townhouses with private forecourts (below)
(above): The active street corner of Perkins Rd and Acadian Thwy consisting of roof top pool deck and recreational area for the tower residents; restaurant with balcony on the second floor; retail on the ground floor. The corner also has ample space for regular vendors and perhaps occasional street market events.
(above): Aerial perspective of the transit oriented development (not final proposal – still in development).
Further development should focus on a high speed rail/MagLev connection from the Baton Rouge Terminal to the Texas high speed rail network via Houston, with stops in Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Beaumont (again along the I-10 median most of the length of the rail line).
Cortana District Node
At the intersection of Airline Hwy and Florida Blvd, there is an incredible opportunity for world class innovation in urban transformation. The most recent Baton Rouge Rail Transit plan has the Gold Line (Florida Blvd and Denham Springs Express) intersecting with the bus rapid transit line of Airline Hwy on the clover leaf roadway intersection that currently exists. This section of the “Urban Transformation” page will explore the possibilities of a super node development in and above the clover leaf intersection – giving this heart of Baton Rouge location the significance, desirability, and transformational splendor it could have.
Most do not see clover leaf intersections as further developable, and most are located outside of urban centers, so they should remain simply vegetated anyway. However, this clover leaf in Baton Rouge is sited in the heart of the city and at the intersection of two very significant transit lines, which presents a fascinating chance to create more than a transit interchange, but also an exciting node of business, residency, and recreational space.
(above): This conceptual plan sketch illustrates an elevated circular pedestrian promenade, which would be vegetated and enclose retail, offices and some residential. Office and residential buildings and an outdoor performance theater are attached to the ring. At the center point of the ring is the interchange of the Airline Hwy rapid bus line and the Florida Blvd rail line. The rail line elevates above the roadway and bus line, and perhaps the rail line could also be elevated along most of Florida Blvd to provide better access to the stops from the parallel to-be-walkable service streets.
City Park Lake Mixed Use Development (CPL-MUD)
One of Baton Rouge’s greatest assets is the area around City Park Lake and University Lake, or as the locals simply call them, “the LSU Lakes.” While many use this area for recreation, exercise, or relaxing in the beautiful scene, only a very select few get to make this area home (or work). On the northern shores of City Park Lake is the nine hole City Park Golf Course. This has been a contentious use of that land, as recently evidenced by a petition to convert it into a multi-use park space, rather than the single use that it is currently. As a matter of urban land use, the petition has is right. This is in the center of a city – no place for such a large, single usage of land. But rather than converting the whole golf course into a so-called multi-use park space, we could transform the land between the railroad tracks and the lake into a mixture of housing, retail, and offices that respect the mature, characterful neighborhood that surrounds the site. It is almost exactly 1 million square feet of land, and the following will illustrate how we could stitch a progressive, high density mixed-use development into the urban and environmental fabric of one of Baton Rouge’s greatest places. Because it is actually a “place,” and more people should be able to live and work here.