BATON ROUGE, LA. – City leaders have officially given the go-ahead to start looking into permits and materials to build the multi-space area called, The Perkins Underpass project.

Many cars go up and over the Perkins Overpass, which is a highly dense area of traffic coming off the interstate in Baton Rouge.

The Director of Transportation and Development for East Baton Rouge Parish, Fred Raiford, agrees something needs to be done to keep up with the dense, highly populated area.

“Let’s face it, the overpass, it’s great for cars, but not good for pedestrians,” says Raiford.

Raiford says, “people can do exercise, they can go visit, they can go eat, or they can do shopping and to me that is a plus, plus, plus.”

Several business owners that surround the overpass, came up with a potential idea to make the area more accessible to walkers, bike riders, and those who want to park their vehicles.

Those businesses include; BLDG 5, Varsity Sports, Moreau Physical Therapy, Cardo Landscape Architecture, Unleaded BBQ, and Ivars Sports Bar & Grill.

The group decided to raise their own funds towards potential ideas for the project. Together the group raised more than $40.000.

The owner of Varsity Sports, Jenni Peters, says she would like the project to include more “connectivity” from the local businesses to residents’ homes.

“Gotta think about how many people live in the Garden District and Hundred Oaks that are not coming over here, walking with strollers or on bikes because the overpass is so dangerous,” says Peters. 

The Underpass Project will feature a park, new lighting, improved parking lots and a partially elevated ADA-accessible path between Reymond Avenue to Christian Street. The plans also include better lighting with landscaping and art murals.

Peters says, “when this becomes a well-lit linear park, it’s really going to make a huge difference to people coming over here on foot.“

At the moment, Raiford has secured a permit deal to work with the railroad company to put in a crossing.

“That crossing is about $425,000 and it’s very expensive, but it’s what you need to be able protect people,” says Peters. 

You can view the designs here and completion of the full project is not known at this time.