BATON ROUGE – The City of Baton Rouge broke ground on a new sidewalk project in the Zeeland and Poet’s Corner area of Baton Rouge.
Neighbors are welcoming the work, but have recently been annoyed that the project is being done before a drainage issue is addressed. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome spoke with one of those concerned neighbors Friday, saying she’d rather be called instead of people going to the news for help.
“Let me just say this, I have an open door policy you don’t have to call the television to talk to me personally,” said Broome.
Nonetheless, the sidewalk construction project started about two weeks ago and will be completed in June.
The City-Parish says the Perkins at Hundred Oak Pedestrian Improvements Project will expand accessibility and alternative modes of transportation along Perkins Road. It’ll be ADA accessible and provide safe access for pedestrians to public transit and commerce in the area. The project was voted on by residents and funded in 2016 with a cost of about $87,000.
“We want to thank our community for being supportive of this effort,” said Broome.
A month ago, 2 On Your Side found a different feeling. Darrell Rivers messaged saying his concerns were overlooked since his neighborhood holds water. He included the City-Parish, mayor’s office, and other parish government officials on the same message saying the drainage system in his neighborhood is overwhelmed and unable to drain properly. The result is water backing up on Perkins Road near Hundred Oaks and water pooling on Letitia Street where Rivers lives. The water inches up the foundation of his house and has entered his home twice.
He says his immediate reaction about the Pedestrian Improvements Project is that it was out of sequence. Early last month, 2 On Your Side asked the City-Parish if something could be done and Transportation and Drainage Director Fred Raiford met Rivers and his neighbors to discuss their concerns. Soon after, Raiford hired a crew to take video of the drainage system underground. That crew was in the Zeeland neighborhood recently taking images underground and clearing blockages they came across.
Rivers has been happy with what the City-Parish has done so far.
“I appreciate the city’s response and the prioritization of our neighborhood,” said Rivers.
He and his neighbors will have to wait to see what happens. The drainage crew will look through the video it collected to see what the neighborhood floods and what—if anything—can be done. Still, the sidewalk project goes on first. The City-Parish will wait to see what the video shows and aren’t sure if drainage repairs will mean tearing up part of those new sidewalks.
Raiford says the plan is to investigate the drainage even further down the line in the future.