Baton Rouge, LA – Thanks to the generosity of Baton Rouge General, the work of the City-Parish Department of Public Works (DPW), and the persistence of Baton Rouge Green, a section of roadway in Mid City is being revitalized.
The center median on Acadian Thruway between Government Street and North Boulevard is being remodeled and landscaped with about 40 new understory trees, grasses and groundcover.
“I firmly believe that a better Baton Rouge, one in which quality of place is at the center of development, requires the creation of a sense of neighborhood at the local level,” said Edgardo Tenreiro, President and CEO of Baton Rouge General. “We are creating that sense of neighborhood in Baton Rouge, together with our partners, with projects like the Acadian Thruway beautification.”
Last year DPW’s Department of Maintenance removed the ailing Bradford Pear trees that had stood in tree wells in these medians, originally planted by Baton Rouge Green in the late 80s. Since then, Department of Maintenance staff has removed the concrete that filled the medians, remediated the soil, and installed root barrier to protect existing curbs and roadway in
preparation for the new landscaping.
With a generous donation from Baton Rouge General, Baton Rouge Green will be able to install Dahoon hollies, mayhaw trees and wax myrtles, complemented by rushes, grasses and groundcover. The project, designed by Baton Rouge Green’s Robert Seemann, is intended to perform like other Baton Rouge Green plantings with minimal maintenance necessary and without irrigation infrastructure.
“We work hard to assemble plant palettes that stimulate local ecology while being durable, relatively low maintenance, and aesthetically pleasing,” says Seemann, a certified arborist and landscape architect, and Director of Operations for Baton Rouge Green.
Baton Rouge Green credits Department of Maintenance staff, especially Director Kyle Huffstickler, with helping bring this plan to fruition. “Even with the tremendous generosity of Baton Rouge General, we wouldn’t have gotten far on this project if the City had not performed the hard work of converting concrete medians to functional planting space. They provided labor, heavy machinery and materials to transform the space into a habitat plants can thrive in,” says Seemann.
“The beautification of Baton Rouge is always a priority, and thanks to the collaboration of the public and private sector, this project will also improve the culture of health,” said Mayor Sharon Broome. “For over 30 years, Baton Rouge Green has cared for and planted trees throughout the city. Their partnership with Baton Rouge General Healthcare and the City of
Baton Rouge’s Department of Public Works goes above and beyond to ensure the peace, prosperity, and progress of this community for all residents.”
“P-3 (Public-Private Partnership) is a buzz word that people like to use. This is a real life example of making it work. A city government agency, a local industry leader, and a non-profit all bringing their resources together to improve a corner of our city. Baton Rouge Green is grateful to have passionate local partners like Baton Rouge General and DPW, and without them we couldn’t make an impact,” says Sage Foley, Baton Rouge Green’s Executive Director.
The Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance (MCRA) and the Baton Rouge Health District also helped push the project along and were part of the planning.
“MCRA is excited to be a part of this public-private partnership that highlights the power of collaboration as we all strive to enhance creative placemaking in Mid City. We are pairing our mini grant programs to residents and businesses in this area to help leverage the impact of this project led by Baton Rouge Green and funded by Baton Rouge General and the City-Parish,” commented Sam Sanders, Executive Director of Mid City Redevelopment Alliance.
Sanders added that residents in the area can contact MCRA for more information.
With the ongoing Government Street road diet and landscaping planned, Mid City boosters are excited for another step in the ongoing progress in the area.
“This project will improve the visual character of one of Mid City’s most highly traversed corridors while providing health benefits to the citizens of the surrounding neighborhoods. Projects like this dovetail into the planning that we at Mid City Merchants are undertaking to complement the road diet currently under construction on Government Street,” said Justin
Lemoine, landscape architect, Board Vice-President of Mid City Merchants and Baton Rouge Green Board Member.
The new planting will not only be a beautiful addition to Mid City, but the trees installed will go on to aid citizens and the environment by removing pollutants from the air, preventing stormwater runoff, lowering temperatures around them, and sequestering carbon, as well as producing oxygen for their human neighbors. Studies show that landscaping near roadways has
a calming effect on drivers and reduces the number of motor vehicle accidents.
“Green infrastructure like this is more than pretty. It’s crucial to human health and safety, and a critical part of protecting homes and infrastructure. On both cost and effectiveness, engineered concrete solutions simply cannot compete with what trees can do to prevent stormwater runoff, and relieves the stress on our storm drains and sewers,” adds Foley.