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Louisiana: Some I-49 South Updates/Articles

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Anthony_JK:
I noticed that AARoads hasn't had an update for quite a while on the I-49 South upgrade from Lafayette to New Orleans, so I thought that I'd offer one, as well as link a few articles of late concerning the current status of the project nearest and dearest to my heart (and region).

I will go from west to east segment wise:

I.  LAFAYETTE TO MORGAN CITY

1) Lafayette Urban Segment ("I-49 Connector"): Record of Decision signed and approved in 2003; currently in design and engineering stages, along with Context Sensitive Solutions design study still ongoing. Minimal funding for right-of-way acquisition, but no construction funding as of yet. Still a bit of a controversy over exact details of how elevated freeway will fill the footprint through Lafayette (locals want a consistent 30' spacing between structures to allow for more open natural lighting; Feds and LaDOTD wanted less spacing to keep within established ROW....still being resolved before CSS study can be completed).  Total cost: $350-400 million

2) I-49 South/US 90 Freeway Upgrade -- Lafayette Parish Suburban Segment (Lafayette Regional Airport to LA 88 Interchange): Record of Decision signed and approved in 2005; no immediate funds for full construction, but funding set for internim improvements to US 90, including widening from 4 to 6 lanes from the Vermillion River crossing to Broussard). Total cost: $300-350 million

3) US 90 Freeway Upgrade -- LA 88 (near New Iberia) to LA 182 (Wax Lake Outlet bridge): Nearly 85% complete, frontage road work in Iberia Parish and three interchanges in St. Mary Parish still needed (LA 85 interchange to be funded this year through the "stimulus package"; still need LA 318 and LA 182 (Calumet) intersections converted to interchanges) Also, study inniment on possiblility of raising section of US 90 near Franklin for flood control/hurricane evacuation. Total cost: $60-80 million, not including raised section study, which could add around $40 million if implemented)

4) I-49 South/US 90 Freeway Upgrade -- Wax Lake Outlet to Berwick/Morgan City: ROD signed and approved around 2005; now in design phase awaiting funding for construction. Total cost: ($115-140 million)

TOTAL COST FOR LAFAYETTE - MORGAN CITY SEGMENT OF I-49 SOUTH: $800 million to $1 trillion

[snip completed segment of US 90 freeway from Morgan City to Raceland]



II. RACELAND TO NEW ORLEANS  (LA 1/LA 308 to Westbank Expressway)

(This includes the realignment of I-310 to connect with I-49 as well as the new interchange proposed at the existing US 90/Westbank Expressway junction and the extension of the existing WB elevated structure.)

Record of Decision signed and approved in 2007; currently in design stage; no funding as of yet committed for construction.

Total cost: $4 BILLION (due mostly to the decision to elevate the entire segment for flood control and hurricane evacuation)


Total for the entire project: $5 TRILLION BILLION. Yeah, that steep...and worth every damn penny.

Now, for the articles:

Paving the way: Properties bought in future I-49 Connector's path (Lafayette Daily Advertiser)
http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090127/NEWS01/901270320

Jindal pledges support: Governor tells Chamber he's committed to improving I-49 (Lafayette Daily Advertiser)
http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009901230315

Legislators push for I-49 (Baton Rouge Advocate)
http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/37485579.html?showAll=y&c=y

I-49 South interest revived (Baton Rouge Advocate)
http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/34070574.html?showAll=y&c=y

Acadiana officials seek ways to complete I-49 South (Alexandria Town Talk)
http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20090113/NEWS01/901130325


Personally, I hope that they don't have to resort to tolls to fund the project....but if that's what it takes to get it done, then so be it.



Anthony


[Note: edited by me to correct final total..should be BILLION, not TRILLION...bad me.  :sombrero: :sombrero: :pan: :pan: :pan: :pan:]

Urban Prairie Schooner:
$5 trillion?  :confused: You mean billions, I assume? Those numbers hardly add up to trillions, thankfully. (But what with trillion dollar bailouts and future currency depreciation, what's a few trillion amongst friends? :))

"Why make trillions when you can make....billions?" - Dr. Evil :sombrero:

Maybe some more of the "stimulus" package could be sent down our way as a down payment of sorts on I-49 extension.

I'd like to know how much removing that tall radio tower/whatever it is smack in the middle of the future LA 85 interchange is going to cost. And I assume that most of the shoulderless bridges along the route are going to have to be replaced before the Feds allow I-49 signs to be posted.

As a stopgap, frontage roads should be constructed in the more developed areas (particularly Lafayette to New Iberia, land of a million curb cuts). US 90 should be expressway grade at minimum outside the urbanized areas. The highway was designed for high speed through travel, not for every suburban strip mall and outhouse to hang their shingle upon.

I sure hope the I-49 project doesn't die on the vine for lack of funding. For a freeway this length, a few billion dollars isn't all that much, though for public funding purposes seems insurmountable. My dream would be to see some entrepeneur bring private capital to the table for this project and prove once and for all that private highways are workable. Given the state of the commercial credit markets nowadays, though, even that seems increasingly unlikely. :no:

flaroads:
My personal opinion on the whole extension for I-49 south from Lafayette to New Orleans would be to NOT number it I-49, but rather I-6, as the route will pretty much contain an easterly-westerly component.  But as I know the government, we don't regulate any new interstate highways, just extend the existing ones.  If it is even completed, it could be a decade or so before seeing any interstate shields south of I-10.

And by the way, the entire project would cost $5 billion, not trillion as earlier stated.  :-o

Anthony_JK:
OK...I did mean BILLION, not TRILLON...sorry about that.  :pan: :pan: :pan:


Anthony

flaroads:
I was just reading one of your links and saw that it was billion, not trillion.  Not a big deal.  I'm sure it really doesn't matter to the government nowdays either considering how much this country is in debt.  Of course if they were to just build as a long viaduct for it instead it could reach $5 trillion... :)

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