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October 04, 2006

Good News for Miss. River Trail

My friend, and sometime contributor of reports, and opinion, from the wilds of Louisiana, and its neighboring states, Larry Lagarde, brings news that should interest fans of the Mississippi River Trail:

The Pontchartrain Levee District, a governmental entity responsible for flood protection in 6 parishes (counties) between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is funding a study to determine the feasibility of creating a paved, 122 mile bike path along the Mississippi River. If the path is created, it would tie into existing paved paths running atop the crown of the Mississippi River levee in metropolitan New Orleans and Baton Rouge, resulting in a paved bike path over 150 miles long.

This new trail would certainly be good news for the Southern Louisiana portion of the Mississippi River Trail. Here, long sections of the MRT are routed along highways with either marginal road surfaces, little to no shoulder or high traffic speeds. Currently, the MRT doesn't even go to Baton Rouge (Louisiana's state capitol, 2nd largest metro area and home to LSU).

Creating this paved trail and routing the MRT over it will provide hundreds of thousands of local residents with a safe and scenic place to walk, roller blade, jog or bike, improving the quality of life and increasing property values. The trail will also introduce revenue from bicycle tourists creating new jobs in small lodgings, restaurants, attractions and shops along the route.

If you have any doubts, just look at what the Danube River Trail has done for rural Austria or what the Coeur d'Alenes Trail is doing in Northern Idaho.

As stated on the Federal Highway Administrations website, "bicycle and pedestrian projects are broadly eligible for funding from almost all the major Federal-aid highway, transit, safety, and other programs."

With last year's enactment into law of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), more federal funding is available for bike trails than ever. Add to the equation the levee's importance to Homeland security and the potential the levee offers to be a safe route to schools in local communities along the route and it seems that funding for this project should be a slam dunk.

I encourage organizations such as Mississippi River Trail, Inc., the League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling, Inc. and others to come together to help make this trail a reality.

Respectfully, Larry Lagarde

Check out Larry's website, and excellent Blog:

Ride THIS Bike

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October 4, 2006 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink


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