(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013 2:18 PM
The going has been good for the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana.
Their Bridge Initiative Committee has been pushing for a new trail for cyclists and pedestrians in south Lake Charles — and they just might get it.
The Department of Transportation and Development has included two options for bike-friendly paths in its proposed bridge over Contraband Bayou, which would connect downtown and south Lake Charles — from the Civic Center to Prien Lake Park.
One option is a combined path for cyclists and pedestrians, while the other includes a pedestrian walkway and bike lanes in the same direction as vehicular traffic.
The bike path proposal does seem a little “putting the cart before the horse” since the bridge hasn’t even been approved yet, but it is a positive step for a city encouraging a more active lifestyle for its residents.
“This was the time to do this before this bridge was designed because we all understood it’s going to be a 100-year bridge,” Brent Lumpkin, chairman of the Bridge Initiative Committee, told the American Press last week.
“If we don’t do it now, it’s very unlikely it will happen later,” he added. “We realized this was a good opportunity to ensure that this would happen here.”
The proposed 12-foot path is linked to the city’s “Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan,” adopted in June 2011.
“It gives a north-south path to a lot of the attractions in the city right now,” said Ron Fossett, project specialist with the city of Lake Charles. “There are already existing sidewalks in some of the sections. In some sections it is going to be a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian shared path.”
The bicycle and pedestrian lanes also fall under the umbrella of the state’s Complete Streets program, which designs roads to meet the needs of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, said Deidra Druilhet, public information officer with DOTD.
Bike trails, when properly designed with the appropriate safety features like fencing and caution signs, can be a big tourist attraction for our area. It means another venue to walk and bike, which could have a positive effect on property values — not to mention health and well-being.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.