(LAFAYETTE, La.) – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), along with federal, state, regional and local partners, recently began the next phase of the I-49 Lafayette Connector project. Over the next 18 months, the public and various government, business and community stakeholders will be invited to participate in a collaborative decision-making process to 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.
To kick off the project, DOTD will host a Public Launch Event at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center. Following remarks by DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel and others, an overview of the scope of activities planned for the next 18 months will be presented. Immediately following will be a Public Information Meeting (also at Rosa Parks) from 4-7 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend this open-house format to learn more about the project and provide comments. (The public comment period continues until Oct. 16.)
The I-49 Lafayette Connector, part of DOTD’s Geaux South program, is a future 5.5-mile segment of highway that is a critical transportation link for Lafayette and the state as a whole. Recognizing the significance of this project, DOTD has initiated a planning and conceptual design study to complete the Functional Plan for the Connector utilizing a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach.
The CSS approach is designed to fulfill 21 commitments established by the I-49 Lafayette Connector ROD. This will include addressing key project-related features where mitigation and other measures to minimize impact need to be considered. The goal is to achieve a project design that’s affordable, acceptable to all key stakeholders and will become a valued community asset. The project team is working closely with local government and city officials to ensure that the project is successful and meets the needs of the community.
Comprehensive communications, public relations, community involvement and stakeholder outreach programs are being developed for the I-49 Lafayette Connector so that all members of the Lafayette Community (residents, businesses, property owners, civic and service organizations) have a variety of opportunities to participate in the CSS process. This will include working community and technical committees, focus groups, stakeholder interviews, design charrettes, neighborhood walkabouts, educational forums and other public meetings and workshops, as well as a website, e-newsletters, a project office and social media.
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.
“Completing I-49 South is a top priority for DOTD,” said Secretary LeBas. “We’re committed to completing the Functional Plan for the I-49 Lafayette Connector, as we work to improve our infrastructure and support economic development throughout the state.”
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.