DOTD announces progress on major section of I-49 South
LAFAYETTE – The I-49 South Coalition celebrated the Department of Transportation and Development’s (DOTD) announcement that the Lafayette Connector is entering the next planning and design phase. The announcement comes as part of DOTD’s larger Geaux South program, a $3 billion, multi-year construction initiative to convert the current U.S. 90 highway to I-49 South, connecting Lafayette to New Orleans.
The I-49 Lafayette Connector will upgrade to interstate standards the 5.5-mile stretch of U.S. 90, running south from I-10 to just beyond Lafayette Regional Airport. More than 100 of the planned 160 miles of I-49 South are complete or currently under construction, making the Lafayette Connector a critical section in completing I-49 South.
David Mann, Chairman of the I-49 South Coalition, said, “Given Louisiana’s $12 billion backlog in infrastructure projects, it has been historically difficult to secure funding for I-49 South. Launching the next design process for one of the most expensive segments – the Lafayette Connector – is an important step forward for our community. It is time to complete this decades-long initiative so that our children and grandchildren can benefit from this significant future asset.”
I-49 South Coalition members, representing a cross section of business and community leaders across south Louisiana, stressed the importance of alleviating traffic along U.S. 90, parts of which are handling more than one and a half times their planned daily capacity.
“When completed, the I-49 Lafayette Connector will remove a serious traffic bottleneck in this corridor,” said Mart Black, Senior Planner with Providence and I-49 South Coalition board member. “It is a major step in making travel to and from the southern reaches of the I-49 corridor safer and faster for businesses and families.”
Bringing the current U.S. 90 highway up to interstate standards will greatly improve a vital national link to “America’s Energy Corridor” while providing substantial benefits in terms of economic development, safety, evacuation, and traffic congestion relief. Top executives continue to rank a good highway system as the No. 1 or No. 2 most important factor when expanding, relocating, or starting a new business.
Kam Movassaghi, former Secretary of DOTD and I-49 South Coalition member, said, “Completing I-49 South from Lafayette to New Orleans must remain a top priority for Louisiana. I-49 South is a game-changing investment, offering large economic benefits, improved hurricane evacuation, and better connectivity for families along the corridor.”
Given the need to integrate the connector into the Lafayette’s urban core and address community concerns, planning for the connector will incorporate a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach to focus on the project’s impact and mitigate any adverse effects. Over the next 18 months, various stakeholders, including members of the general public, will participate in the CSS process with the goal of achieving a collaborative conceptual design for the I-49 Lafayette Connector.
A Community Working Group (CWG) will be a primary vehicle for public participation in design charrettes, neighborhood walkabouts, educational forums, public meetings and workshops. The design consultants will maintain a project office at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center to ensure broad public engagement.