Legislative-Briefs-Government-actions-on-obesity

Legislative Briefs: Government actions on obesity

by Naomi King Englar

Millions in road repairs include ‘complete street’ features
New Orleans’ latest installation of bike lanes – along oak tree-lined Esplanade and City Park avenues – was dedicated in June. Several more are slated to open this summer and later this year.
The new bike lanes are part of the $90 million Paths to Progress program, a combined effort of federal, state and local agencies to improve streets in New Orleans. The program intentionally uses “complete streets” concepts when designing the road work, said Chincie Mouton, a spokeswoman for HNTB Corporation, the local firm hired to manage Paths to Progress.

“We integrate complete streets in our program to improve safety and make roadways more accessible for everyone,” Mouton said. “This is seen through the installation of dedicated bike lanes, shared bike lanes and ADA-compliant ramps [at sidewalk intersections].”

Future road projects with bike lanes include:
  • St. Bernard Avenue (from N. Rampart to Gibson streets) and Gentilly Avenue (from Paris to N. Broad avenues). Construction is underway and set for completion in September. Total project cost including repaving work is $3.5 million.
  • Freret Street (Louisiana to Jefferson avenues), Nashville Avenue (S. Claiborne Avenue to Fontainebleau Drive), and Fontainebleau Drive (Broadway Street to Nashville Avenue). Construction is scheduled to start August 2013. Total project costing including repaving work is $3.3 million. A community meeting is scheduled July 30 to inform neighbors of the upcoming work.
  • Banks Street (from S. Carrollton Avenue to S. St. Patrick Street), Bienville Street (from N. Jefferson Davis Parkway to N. Carrollton Avenue), S. Jefferson Davis Parkway (from Gravier to Canal streets). Construction start date is not set but is tentatively in early 2014. Total project cost including repaving work is $2.5 million.

More information about community meetings, project updates and news is at www.pavinglaroads.com.
(Photo of Paths to Progress dedication on Esplanade Avenue by Tulane PRC staff)

Louisiana will test new early education standards this fall
Fifteen parishes in Louisiana will be the testing grounds this year for new state standards designed to ensure more children enter school kindergarten ready. The new standards – which include academic performance scores, a teaching assessment system and licensing criteria for childcare centers – will be spread throughout the state by the 2015-2016 school year. The Department of Education, which is overseeing the process, has said the standards will apply to all centers receiving public money.

As of now, the standards do not include any specific requirements for nutrition, physical activity or limited screen time – all of which are known to contribute to child development and learning. Many health professionals, foundations and nonprofit organizations, including the Tulane PRC, are working with state education officials to continually stress the important role health plays in academic readiness.

Congress begins farm bill negotiations
The most influential bill for farmers and people using government food aid has yet to be finalized by top leaders from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Lawmakers are going into negotiations to hash out differences in the two versions of the farm bill that passed each chamber earlier this summer.

The expected outcome, however, is unclear. The Senate’s version of the bill keeps subsidies for farmers and food aid together in one bill. But the House version has no provision for continuing national food aid programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The House may decide to create a separate food-assistance bill. Or, if a compromise has not been reached by the Sept. 30 expiration of the current farm bill, lawmakers would have to seek an extension to keep from reverting to older laws from the 1930s and 1940s.

Topics:   policy , built environment , bike lanes , sidewalks , agriculture , snap , wic , early childhood health

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