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I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)

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Whereas some other states are taking out urban freeways, Louisiana is one of the few states still willing to plow a freeway through the heart of a city.  LaDOTD even studied bypass alignments way back in 1993.

As much as I-49 between Lafayette and New Orleans would present an alternative route to I-10, I don't think that the I-10 mainline should ever take that route.  It is much closer to the Gulf of Mexico and highly-susceptible to sea level rise being in the delta region.  Furthermore, planners need to assume that the Atchafalaya River will capture the Mississippi River someday, such that any plans for I-49 in this region (as well as any plans for rebuilding I-10) should also consider this.


--- Quote from: RoadMaster09 on September 08, 2020, 06:30:22 PM ---I'm looking at bypass options and the area southwest of Lafayette is still quite heavily developed. Still, it might be more feasible in the longer term although it would be more useful as an I-10 alternative than as I-49.

I came up with this idea that probably minimizes disruption the most while allowing for a full speed bypass. With this, I-49 would still end in Lafayette, but I-10 would take over the bypass and US 90 to New Orleans, while I-12 gets extended westward (and a few other numbering changes are made). For those who want a freeway route from New Iberia and east to north of Lafayette, they could take I-10 to I-12 and then I-12 to I-49. This preserves downtown Lafayette without a freeway and fixes up the numbering.

--- End quote ---

Plenty of reasons why this would not work for a north-south bypass:

1) A west-to-south outer loop bypass of Lafayette is already under planning as the Lafayette Metro Expressway toll loop; it would encompass the same general corridor as your original proposal, except extended a bit further out to wrap around Maurice to the west and south, allowing for a direct connection with US 167 south to Abbeville; and a hook up with US 90/Future I-49 South near the current LA 88 Coteau Road interchange (and an extension to LA 182 and Acadiana Regional Airport).

2) The costs of the LRX loop, even with tolls implemented, would be prohibitive, running nearly $1.5 billion to $2 billion to complete the sections from I-10 to US 90. If you want to add a segment north of I-10 to connect with I-49 near Carencro in order to fully complete an I-49 extension, you'd have to add another $400 million. The Lafayette Connector, by contrast, would max out at around $750M to $1B. It's also compatible with already completed and planned upgrades on the segment of US 90/Evangeline Thruway, such as the Albertsons Parkway/St. Nazaire Road interchange that was completed recently; and the soon to be constructed Ambassador Caffery Parkway South interchange.

3) The LRX would serve it's own standalone utility of providing a direct bypass alternative for those wanting to avoid Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and the Atchafalaya Basin viaduct, and provide a new and improved hurricane evacuation route for Vermillion Parish/Abbeville that bypasses Lafayette. It would be less useful for north-south evacuation or serving existing traffic on US 90, which would continue to use the US 90/Evangeline Thruway through Lafayette as the most direct route to I-10/I-49 North.

4) The 1993 Lafayette North-South Corridor Study mentioned here analyzed bypass alternatives to the west and the east, and found them to be seriously lacking in both costs and impacts as compared to the Evangeline Thruway/US 90 corridor. Another standalone east bypass option, the Teche Ridge alignment, has been pushed by Connector opponents, but it has its own demerits and impacts, especially to sensitive environmental areas such as Cypress Swamp.

5) I wouldn't really mind the LRX incorporated into a reroute of I-10 along US 90, or a standalone designation of an eastern I-6 using the LRX and the rest of I-49 South from Broussard on southeastward. The Connector and the upgrade of US 90 north of there to I-10, though, needs to be built in order to handle the current traffic needs.


--- Quote from: The Ghostbuster on September 08, 2020, 07:03:55 PM ---Too fictional, RoadMaster09. Take it to Fictional Highways.

--- End quote ---

Not really, because there is an actual plan for an Lafayette outer loop, the Lafayette Metro Expressway, though it is currently in mothballs right now. (Lafayette Metro eXpressway site)

[Update: fixed the broken link to the LRX site]

The Ghostbuster:
I wasn't aware of that (given I live in Wisconsin). I still doubt that such a route would ever be built, though.


--- Quote from: The Ghostbuster on September 09, 2020, 04:30:25 PM ---I wasn't aware of that (given I live in Wisconsin). I still doubt that such a route would ever be built, though.

--- End quote ---

I-49 (southeast) is to Lafayette, LA what US 10 (east) is to Stevens Point, WI.  It will eventually have to be completed due to its utility for commerce (as well as its status as a major hurricane evacuation route).



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