(LAFAYETTE, La.) – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) recently hosted a launch event and public information meeting for the I-49 Lafayette Connector project. Held at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center Tuesday, Oct. 6, the event included remarks from DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas along with local and state officials about the importance of this project for the future of Acadiana.
“Completion of the Geaux South program is a top priority for DOTD,” said Secretary LeBas. “As we continue to work towards the I-49 Lafayette Connector, along with other I-49 South projects, we are aiding in propelling Louisiana’s infrastructure into the future, which in turn helps to enhance safety and strengthen economic growth throughout Louisiana.”
At the event, members of the community were encouraged to review various displays and ask questions. Attendees also heard about the many public events, meetings, committees, forums, walkabouts and other events that are planned to encourage input and engagement with the local community. These activities are part of a comprehensive Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach designed to fulfill 21 commitments (established by the I-49 Lafayette Connector ROD) and complete the Functional Plan for the Connector.
The I-49 Lafayette Connector is part of DOTD’s Geaux South program, and represents a critical transportation link for Lafayette and the state as a whole. The goal is to achieve a project design that’s affordable, acceptable to all key stakeholders and will become a valued community asset. DOTD and the project team are working closely with local groups and city officials to ensure that the project is successful and meets the needs of the community. Along with the many events planned, there will also be a website, e-newsletter, project office and social media to make it easy to stay up-to-date on the project.
Along with the CSS and public outreach program, this phase of the project will also include engineering work such as topographic surveys and aerial photography, soil borings, traffic studies and bridge design studies. An environmental re-evaluation will address any relevant laws or regulations, new information or changes in circumstances that might affect the project.
“Nothing will do more to improve traffic in and around Lafayette than this project,” said City-Parish President Durel. Representative Joel Robideaux, who also spoke at the event, agreed. “Completing the I-49 Corridor through Lafayette is vital for our future,” he said. Representative Vincent Pierre remarked that he is “looking forward to seeing what the community’s vision is for making the Connector an asset for Lafayette.” I-49 South Coalition Chairman David Mann sees a great opportunity: “I believe this project has the potential to bring needed investment to the communities along the corridor, he said.
DOTD is working with federal, state, regional and local partners on the project. This phase of the I-49 Lafayette Connector will complete the planning and conceptual design for the Selected Alternative for construction of the I-49 Lafayette Connector on the alignment selected and approved in the 2003 FHWA Record of Decision (ROD) along the Evangeline Throughway between I-10 and Lafayette Regional Airport.
DOTD’s Geaux South program is a $3 billion, multi-year construction initiative to convert approximately 160 miles of the current U.S. 90 corridor to Interstate 49 South. When completed, I-49 will extend from the current terminus at I-10 in Lafayette to the West Bank Expressway in New Orleans. Geaux South will support economic growth, improve access, reduce traffic congestion, and improve connectivity throughout the state’s transportation system.