It appears that plans to resurrect the once dead I-49 connector project are again in the works at a time when we have a pandemic and a struggling economy to worry about. Perfect timing.
Please read comments from Harold Schoeffler.
To: Editors of the Advocate, the Advertiser, and the Current
From: Harold Schoeffler, Chairman, Acadian Group, Sierra Club
Once again DOTD is attempting to move forward with the Lafayette I-49 “Connector” project. The Connector is unlikely to ever become a reality for the following reasons:
The project lacks public support and has been opposed for over 30 years by hundreds of citizens and the victims who will lose their homes, jobs, businesses, churches and other community assets. This opposition has been well voiced in public hearings, meetings and lawsuits.
It has an overabundance of prohibitively expensive problems due to its proximity to the Railroad, Downtown Lafayette, and to the Airport. These issues bring the price to at least three to four hundred million dollars per mile which far exceeds the normal funding for interstate highways.
The path of this highway takes it through the abandoned, highly contaminated Union Pacific Rail Yard. It has been declared so by the U.S. EPA, LA DEQ and the Federal Courts. Current litigation seeks to hold Union Pacific accountable for the cleanup. This suit and the clean-up must be completed before the connector can be built. Its cost could be as much as $2 billion and could take decades to complete. Louisiana DOTD attorneys declared in the federal citizens’ suit against the project that the proposed pathway for the connector is the only feasible route, which was upheld by the court’s ruling. This creates a Catch-22 whereby more cost effective routes are not considered.
The footprint of the proposed connector lies above the Chicot aquifer, Lafayette’s water source. Contamination has already been observed in our aquifer. Driving elevated roadway pilings through the Rail Yard and into our aquifer without a thorough cleanup would endanger our precious water supply.
The 20 year old Environmental Impact Study required by federal law is significantly outdated, far exceeding the 3 year life of an EIS. The attempt to supplement this outdated EIS is a waste of time and money. A new EIS is required because of passage of time, new significant environmental information and major changes in the Record of Decision, all of which apply to this project.
In conclusion, we are outraged that the DOTD continues to spend millions in taxpayer money on a project that is too expensive, destroys community, jobs, homes, and businesses, reduces property tax revenue, increases traffic on city streets, and endangers drinking water, air quality and Bayou Vermilion. The public has been wise in opposing this project for the past 30 years. When confronted with public opposition, engineering obstacles, and high cost, other states have revised planned interstate corridors and created urban bypasses. Why not in Lafayette?
From Mike Waldon
Once again the LaDOTD is redesigning plans for their “Lafayette Connector.” Online meetings on Tuesday, 7/28, and Thursday, 7/30, have been announced. No public input is allowed during these advisory group meetings, but we are allowed to listen. Find out more, click on the latest ConnectorComments post.
Meetings Announced by DOTD Will Again Suggest Design Revisions
For over two decades LaDOTD has been revising designs for their “I-49 Connector” in Lafayette. Each new design that has been presented has fallen to design flaws, impracticality, legal challenge, and/or extreme public opposition. Once again, the LaDOTD Lafayette I-49 Connector is returning to make renewed plans for building their urban interstate through the heart of Lafayette. Two online meetings of the LCAG (I believe this is the Lafayette Connector Advisory Group) are planned:
- Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm: An Introduction to Bridge Design and Construction. Focus will be on the Mainline Structural Viaduct Type Alternatives, the Evaluation Criteria and Evaluation Process conducted to date, and other opportunities to improve structural components with the CSS (Context Sensitive Solutions) process.
- Thursday, July 30, 2020, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Working Session utilizing breakout Focus Groups and a summary round table to further discuss structural concepts and alternatives introduced in the Tuesday LCAG Meeting. The breakout Focus Groups will discuss the Mainline Structural Viaduct Types and their detailed characteristics including such things as scale, constructibility, cost, and long-term operations and maintenance; and other CSS Structural Considerations such as abutment walls, piers, retaining walls, and railings.These focus groups will report back the results of their discussion, evaluation,and preferences. Consensus will be developed on LCAG conclusions/preferences for report out to the Partner Agency and Executive Committee, at future meetings.
This is a committee working meeting, but if members of the public would like to attend in a listen-only manner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Online Meeting access information.
Stay tuned for more information.