U.S. Senator David Vitter held a town hall meeting in Addis Thursday morning, discussing issues and answering locals’ questions regarding everything from Obamacare to West Baton Rouge traffic woes.
Many of meeting’s attendees questioned Vitter about what was being done about traffic in the parish, while many others suggested what could be done.
“We’re not doing enough, I’m looking hard at that,” Vitter said regarding the traffic problems in West Baton Rouge, going into East Baton Rouge parish. “Addressing them over 10 years isn’t good enough, this is a problem now… and it’s going to be a growing problem.”
Some members of the audience suggested locations where they thought a new bridge would be beneficial, while others said gave recommend other options, such as closing certain exits during rush hours to help alleviate the traffic issue or replacing a small park in East Baton Rouge with a road to connect traffic to I-10.
You have 95,000 cars a day go over the bridge, and 78 percent go to the right (onto I-10),” said Chris “Fish” Kershaw, WBR Parish Council member. “The issue is, on our side, we could use some more help here. If you didn’t do anything to LA-1 and you still had that many cars taking a right, you’re going to have a battle you can’t win.”
Vitter said that he is in the process of researching the traffic woes that plague West Baton Rouge Parish.
“The original idea was the Baton Rouge Loop. That is off the table, essentially for the foreseeable future. I think what the state is more focused on, which I think is smart, is a partial improvement, particularly to the south, South Baton Rouge, maybe across the river to give some relief there… I don’t think they’re close to picking any particular sites,” he said. “The bigger impact here is Louisiana Department of Transportation and how they effectively spend that money on real priorities.”
Other questions, during the town hall meeting, pertained to other hot-button issues such as Common Core in the state.
“I’m for making sure our kids can compete and do compete with kids around the nation, in fact, around the world. That’s the economy we live in. We need to be able to make that comparison to see where we are. Improve their education; improving the standard,” Vitter said in response to an audience member who asked for his opinion about the Common Core standards. “What I’m concerned about with is Common Core almost certainly encourages… number one, the federal government dominating things and getting in charge of curriculum. I’m against anything that will put the federal government in charge of curriculum. Common Core doesn’t do that overtly, but it may encourage that.”
Vitter said that he believes there is some “political correctness” involved in Common Core and he believes teaching should be based on reading, writing and arithmetic, not political ideologies or political correctness.
In response to a question regarding the state’s current administration, Vitter said he thinks Louisiana’s current governor, Bobby Jindal, has helped make the state’s business climate very good and attractive to businesses and jobs.
“But I think we need to keep going and improve that even more, including one thing that’s not so attractive to business, that’s the lawsuit climate,” Vitter said. “I think we need to look at tort reform to make sure there aren’t abusive lawsuits that run jobs out of the state.
“Budget reform and tax reform. That’s crucial in creating the stability,” he said.
Several times in his comments and answers, Vitter, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999, mentioned his plans to run for governor in the next election. Vitter was elected to his first term in the Senate in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010.