Regional Boards > Mid-South

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

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I haven't met Mrs. Burruss, but I do know that Michael Waldon is indeed White.

The stupidest aspect of their argument is that since the construction of the original Evangeline Thruway couplet was a racist intent to destroy traditional Black neighborhoods, the building of the Connector along the Thruway is simply a continuation of that "racist" intent and therefore must be canceled on "civil rights" grounds. Really?? I always thought that the alignment of the Thruway selected (using one way couplets involving existing streets) signified a compromise of avoiding bisecting the Sterling Grove neighborhood as well as providing a more direct connection between US 167 north to Opelousas and beyond and the US 90 section to the southeast. The old Southern Pacific Railroad classification yard that used to be located in the central part of the city (closed down in the 1960s and relocated to the present location west of Lafayette) was already a major divider between neighborhoods; and the current BNSF/UP mainline still splits the city nearly in half. Also, the old classification railyard had to be cleaned up due to hazardous waste contamination.

The existing proposed Connector alignment that was approved in the 2003 ROD was an adequate compromise that avoided excessive displacements by pushing the freeway alignment off the Thruway in its central section, while providing direct access to the CBD and neighborhoods through interchanges. The modifications in the current Supplemental EIS/CSS process further reduce and mitigate impacts, and even (through the "urban boulevard" concept), provide opportunities for further development of the corridor and better connectivity (along with the usual walkability and bikeability that urban designers say they want). This isn't about "racism"; this is pure NIMBYISM and exploiting the "race card" to oppose this project.

The I-49 connector could improve business thru the middle of Lafayette and maybe boost employment through those parts of time. It could do more to help improve the lives of people these activists are claiming to protect. Under the current status quo little will be done to help. More commercial and residential development will take place around the outer fringes of the city, particularly areas near where Future I-49 freeway segments are completed.

I think the only negative risk of building the I-49 connector is a potential of gentrification of lower income neighborhoods. But Lafayette isn't exactly a major tourist attraction or location where douchey people want to buy 2nd and 3rd homes. A completed I-49 skirting downtown Lafayette could attract new retail and service businesses as well as fuel after business hours leisure activity in the downtown district. If lots of people can drive in and out of the downtown area easier they might visit more often.

Urban Prairie Schooner:
Wouldn't improved access as provided by the I-49 Connector increase mobility and access to jobs for the residents of the adjacent neighborhoods? Doesn't seem racist to me in that light.

Seems to me that it would, and there are real opportunities for economic growth along the Evangeline Thruway "grand boulevard" segment between Second/Third and Fourteenth/Taft streets, especially in the area between the freeway ROW and the boulevard on the west side of the boulevard. Plus, the current northbound Thruway roadway between Fourteenth and Magnolia Streets would be repurposed as a two-way local street and returned to the McComb-Veazey neighborhood which the Thruway borders.

Not to mention, this can be done with minor mitigation for all of the neighborhoods abetting the freeway alignment, since the Thruway would remain as a surface through/local access/frontage/service road system while the Connector freeway cannibalizes all the heavy through traffic. Far better than the alternative of a choked and dangerous, if not deadly Thruway with little or no sidewalks and NO bikeability right now.

An update to the Connector nonsense ongoing. ran an editorial right after posting the article on the "civil rights" investigation of the Connector project which skewered Burruss and Waldon pretty good:

Editorial: The "racist" road is needed for Interstate 49

Mrs. Burruss was butthurt enough to launch a letter to the editor to the Baton Rouge Advocate defending the lawsuit and deriding the project:

Letters: I-49 extension plan would exacerbate earlier redlining

And then, some AARoads roadgeeker decided to respond to Mrs. Burruss with some actual facts:

Freeway project disconnected from racial strife

I may decide to do a full debunking of Mrs. Burruss' non-arguments over at my Connector support blog if you want it.


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