Planning Commission offers alternate I-49 connector plan to utilize Thruway

Local engineers are offering their own plan on how to connect Interstate 49 through the city with less impact to surrounding neighborhoods.

Members of the Acadiana Planning Commission and Lafayette Consolidated Government presented their alternate proposed plan last week to the Federal Highway Commission and I-49 South committee members.

The plan removes proposed major interchanges and instead transforms Evangeline Thruway into a collector road.

“We are toying with idea of what do we do with the existing Thruway,” Warren Abadie, chief staff engineer for LGC told I-49 connector committee members last week.

“We believe that we could leverage the Thruway right of way, which would act as a collector road for traffic on and off I-49 as well as traffic in the urban core of the grid. You are basically splitting interchanges and using slip ramps on each side of the Evangeline Thruway in order to gain access to it.”

The plan would remove proposed interchanges at Johnston and Congress and turn the Evangeline Thruway into an “urban arterial” with planted trees and street parking.

One example offered was Houston’s Highway 59.

“This is just pointing out the interchanges that could possibly go away,” Abadie said. “I think for this idea to work they would have to do away with interchanges in order to use the existing Evangeline Thruway right of way. And if we are doing away with the interchanges, there’s no reason why the structure couldn’t be elevated and elevated throughout the whole urban core.”

Some committee members expressed concerns over railroad traffic and reducing frontage roads, which will all have to be addressed in the future.

The DOTD and consulting firm Stantec said they are working with local engineers and taking the plan into consideration.

A lengthier elevated structure could lend itself for more consideration for a signature bridge, which has also been proposed.

The bridge could provide a positive aesthetic for the city, One Acadiana President and CEO Jason El Koubi during Thursday’s Community Working Group meeting.

“Acadiana doesn’t have a skyline,” El Koubi said. “This could be important for the gateway to the city.”

The Community and Technical Advisory Committee will continue discussion of the design during their Feb. 25 and 26 meetings.

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