The Loop Is NOT Dead and Central IS Involved

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By Dave Freneaux with Submissions by David Barrow and Wade Giles

In HB-2 Capitol Outlay bill the House approved a little over $6 Million in funding for continued studies of the Baton Rouge Loop.  Last Friday a Senate committee removed all Loop funding from the bill.  As this article is being written there is action in Senate Finance committee to add back some Loop funding  and proponents of the Loop are pledging to try to restore the funding on the Senate floor or in Conference Committee.  HB-2 is expected to come to a vote on the Senate floor in the next several days.
In researching to write this article it has become apparent that the sheer volume of documents, studies, legislation, opinions, articles, charts and graphs encountered on the subject of the Loop make this a very complicated issue.  There are, however, three recurring themes which bear printing.  1) There are serious questions about the financial viability of any BR Loop.  2) The people of Central object to even considering a loop unless the collective voice of this City is heard and heeded, and even then, a route which disrupts or divides the City of Central will meet stiff opposition.  3) Central, in order to build a tax base sufficient to maintain a growing city and school system, needs economic Development.

Financial Viability – The Livingston Parish group organized to keep the Loop out of their area supplied with a great deal of data based on traffic counts, toll rates, and construction costs which were used by the BR Loop Commission in its presentations.  If you wish to delve into this data yourself please email   In a nutshell, the traffic counts produced by the Loop studies are not sufficient to support the building of a toll road that would pay for itself.  Further, the entire project is based on a guarantee by the government that the investors will make a 12% profit.  This means that tax dollars would have to be used to guarantee that investors got their money back, plus a 12% profit.

Central’s Objection – Public sentiment generally heard around Central is that a major problem with the whole Loop concept is the lack of consideration that seems to be given to what the people of Central want and will support.  The single largest objection is often heard when there is any discussion of a Loop anywhere near the heart of the city.  See also the City of Central’s Press Release below.

Economic Development – Setting aside for a moment the pitfalls of financial viability and Central’s objections, there are potentially meaningful economic benefits for the City of Central should there ever be a major thoroughfare through some part of Central.  See also comments from Wade Giles of the Central Economic Development Foundation below.

With the Loop issue again being considered by our legislators, you are encouraged to contact your elected representatives and voice your opinion, whether you are for or against the Loop.



A state senate committee rejected additional funding for the Baton Rouge Loop on Friday after nearly an hour of testimony.  The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee was considering House Bill 2, which contains hundreds of individual appropriations, by Rep. Hunter Greene.  State Senator Dale Erdey, who serves on the committee, recommended deleting the $5.2 million appropriation for the loop and move that funding towards an I-10 / LA415 connector in West Baton Rouge Parish .
Senator Erdey said there are three possible routes that the loop could take through Central, yet no one on the Loop steering committee could ever provide him with enough information that he wanted.  According to John Carpenter, who is EBR Mayor-President Kip Holden's Assistant Chief Adminstrative Officer, the northern loop is the only part of the project under consideration now, and the price tag has dropped from near $5 billion to $757 million.
Senator Buddy Shaw of Shreveport told Carpenter that, "It's a shame that the route has to be determined by where it's most beneficial to the builder," referring to the fact that this would be a toll road built by a private company.  Carpenter named at least 5 firms that have expressed interest in building the project, including several firms from Europe.
Erdey also stated that one of the proposed routes goes right through the proposed downtown area of Central near Hooper Road.  Carpenter responded by saying that route isn't really under consideration anymore and won't happen without extensive workshops with the citizens in the area. "It will have to be a route that is acceptable to a large group of people," Carpenter stated.  Erdey stated that the loop committee has made no attempts to come to Central lately to set up public meetings to gather input.
In response to Carpenter's comments, Erdey stated, "if the loop's not going through downtown Central, then why is that route still on the map?  We have asked them to take it off, but they won't."
Erdey also stated that over $6 million has been spent so far studying the proposed loop, with over $4.5 going to consulting engineers and this project was a dead-end street. 
Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer, who has dropped his support for the loop after hearing from citizens in his parish, testified that it's not really a loop anymore. "It's just a bypass that chops up the fastest growing parish in the area," referring to the fact that all the southern routes of the loop have been abandoned and only the northern section across EBR and Livingston Parish would be constructed.   Grimmer agreed with Erdey by stating that no one can tell him where it's going and he cannot get any answers from anyone.
Erdey told the committee that there are other options to the loop such as widening Florida Blvd and building a new bridge across the Amite River at the end of Hooper Rd.  Erdey concluded by stating, "This is a quality of life issue that will destroy Central, Watson, and possibly Walker.  Hear the cry of the people who say 'No Loop'."
At least a dozen citizens from Livingston Parish and Central attended the hearing and filled out cards voicing their opposition to the continued loop funding.  Rep. Clif Richardson and Rep. Bodi White also attended the hearing.
The committee voted 8-2 to stop the funding.  Senators Heitmeier, Erdey, Riser, Adley, Kostelka, Shaw, Morrell, and Morrish voted in favor of the amendment to delete the loop funding.  Senators Rob Marionneaux and Yvonne Dorsey voted against the amendment.

It is possible that Rep. Greene will seek to bring up the funding issue again before the legislature convenes in two weeks.



Thanks for bringing the facts to light.  One of the facts is that there is a widespread opposition to any sort of Loop.  The portion of a loop that would affect Central is a “Northern Loop Portion”.  I don’t disagree that the two Southern alternates shown on the Loop maps would bring unwanted division and/or congestion to our present infrastructure.  However the Northernmost alternative seems to be the best solution to bringing needed economic development to our city.  If our school system is to thrive, we must increase the economic tax base.  Without a major Interstate-like thoroughfare it will be extremely difficult to persuade major retailers to locate in the city.  Most successful developments require that it be in close proximity to an Interstate system or similar infrastructure. 
By locating the Loop in the Northern part of the city, we could establish a Regional Shopping Center, such as “Town Center” that would attract retail spending from the surrounding areas of Zachary, Baker, St. Francisville, Denham Springs, as well as the rural areas to our north.  Currently, we have a sales leakage of 49%, where a development such as this would create a negative leakage and bring additional spending to our city.  Sales taxes are included in this spending and goes a long way to support our schools and city.  The only opposition to this project has been political.  I only hope that our legislators revisit the funding issue and  refrain from politicizing the project. 
Wade Giles
Central Economic Development Foundation