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I49 in LA

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Grzrd:
To facilitate discussion, I decided to start a topic instead of a poll.

The question is simple: Which project do you think will be completed first:

Lafayette I-49 Connector or Shreveport Inner-City Connector?
(If anyone wants to make an argument for New Orleans from West Bank Expressway to I-310, please do so).

I see situation as follows

Lafayette
Pros:

Studies have been conducted and ROW procedure has been set up (although unfunded) (http://www.i49connector.com/row.html)

For above reason, Lafayette is farther along in process than Shreveport and, for Shreveport "cons" outlined below, should have this advantage for many more years.

Cons: Momentum for construction has slowed down as LADOTD has focused on I-49 North construction from I-220 to Arkansas state line.  For same reason, construction of I-49 South as a whole has appeared to slow down.  LADOTD may want to first focus on less expensive, piecemeal intersection upgrades to tranform U.S. 90 to I-49 South.

Shreveport:

Pros:

Business and political leaders appear to agree on need for Inner-City Connector and have been seeking community involvement in the process (http://www.i49shreveport.com/community.php).

Approximately 32 miles of 37 mile segment of I-49 North in Louisiana is scheduled to be completed by 2013 and Arkansas segment from Doddridge to LA state line should be finished by 2015 (http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20100725/OPINION03/7250364/30-miles-of-I-49-North-could-be-opened-in-late-2013).  Assuming recently awarded contract in Texarkana from Arkansas Blvd. to I-30 is also completed by 2015, all but 5 miles will be completed from I-220 to I-30.  All of which should put pressure on feds to seriously consider the project (complete I-49 from I-10 to I-30!).

Cons

The 5 mile segment of I-49 North immediately north of I-220 (sections J and K) is currently unfunded and will be expensive.  Presumably, LADOTD would want to complete these sections before considering the Inner-City Connector, which will consume many years.

I-220 to LA 3132 to I-49 south of Shreveport could already be considered "missing link" easily resigned as I-49 and feds might question necessity for project.

I am not from Louisiana and I do not know the local politics.  That said, I think Shreveport Inner-City Connector will be built first.

Thoughts?

Anthony_JK:
Well....I'm a Louisiana native and have followed the I-49 projects for the past 20 or so years, so I'll take a crack at it.

1) I-49 Connector in Lafayette/I-49 South

No brainer: After I-49 North is finished between I-220 and Arkansas, THIS MUST BE LaDOTD'S HIGHEST PRIORITY. Considering that much of US 90 between New Iberia and Wax Lake is nearing completion to Interstate standards -- only two at-grade intersections (LA 308 near Four Corners and LA 182 at Calumet) need to be converted to interchanges, and only some spot frontage road construction is needed between LA 88 and LA 675) --  that would leave only the Lafayette segments and the segment between  Wax Lake and Berwick/Morgan City to be constructed before we have a legit Interstate between Lafayette and Raceland.

ROW is being slowly acquired in Lafayette proper for the I-49 Connector project....but the emphasis is on S-L-O-W-L-Y. Right now, they are awaiting the results of a study on the amount of spacing between the elevated structures of the proposed freeway within Lafayette proper; that has become a major sticking point between the local authorities and the LaDOTD during the design process. It is possible that any additional ROW may require a supplemental environmental study, which would further delay construction...but as always, the big drawback is MONEY. It would cost nearly $400 million to construct I-49 through Lafayette, and that doesn't include the additional $350 mil that would be needed to upgrade the segment of US 90 immediately south to the LA 88 interchange.

For all that, I still say that LaDOTD should bite the bullet and fund the Lafayette-Morgan City upgrade post haste as the #1 priority...if not for the need for rapid hurricane evacuation of the cities along that corridor, than definitely for the benefits to the oil industry dependent communities along that corridor.

The second priority should be to complete the Westbank Expressway upgrade all the way to US 90 and rebuild the WBX/90 interchange to tie into the Huey P. Long Bridge rebuild....perhaps with some upgrade of existing US 90 through Avondale.

The remaining segments of US 90/proposed I-49 South can be delayed a bit until proper financing is obtained...though having a decent connection from Raceland to I-310 which would allow use of the latter as a stop-gap would be a nice langiappe.


[continued]
Anthony

Anthony_JK:
2) I-49 Shreveport Connector/I-49 North to Texarkana

The LaDOTD just complete a Phase 0 Feasibility Study on the possibility of closing the gap between I-20 and I-220 via a downtown connector freeway, and thus far public response has been suprisingly positive.  Even many in the communities who were the most opposed during the 1980's to running I-49 through downtown have had a change of heart...mostly due to the potential economic growth impacts and neighborhood rehab possibilities.

Yes, I-220/LA 3132 do exist as a bypass alternative...but locals have expressed major concerns that that route would require serious widening to 6 lanes to handle the potential through traffic, and that such would also remove traffic from the central downtown area.  More importantly, I-220 crosses Cross Lake, which serves as Shreveport's main source of drinking water; and there are major concerns about having major trucks and hazardous materials using that route.

Also...LaDOTD did think ahead of themselves and incorporate into the I-49/I-220 interchange ROW for a future extension southward..so they must favor a more direct through route as well.

I'm guessing that once the remainding funds for I-49 north of 220 are secured and construction is completed, they will find some way to fund the Inner City Connector. There may still be some who would prefer the I-220/Inner Loop corridor and who would oppose the downtown route on NIMBY principles...but they would be in the minority this time.

Now...anyone here has about $2 BILLION to spare so that we can get both projects going???


Anthony

Grzrd:
Just received an email reply from LaDOTD re completion of Sections A and B of I-49 North.  No driving on either one of them (Section A makes sense because it ends right at Arkansas state line; Section B  :hmmm:) for a long time.  Intervening time between completion and opening to traffic provides opportunity to hike a piece of interstate before driving on it.  Anyone ever done that?

The reply:


--- Quote ---Section A of I-49 North (from La. 168 to the Arkansas line) will be completed by October 2010, and Section B (from Mira-Myrtis Road to La. 168) is estimated to be completed by March 2011. These segments will not be open to motorists until other segments have been completed, possibly in 2013.
We are currently discussing options for ribbon cutting/ groundbreaking ceremonies for I-49 North segments.

--- End quote ---

J N Winkler:

--- Quote from: bugo on July 14, 2010, 07:26:48 PM ---What number will the completed sections of I-49 in LA get?  It won't be I-49 because the northernmost sections of the freeway are scheduled to be finished before the southernmost sections.  Or will they reroute US 71 onto the freeway?
--- End quote ---

I have looked at the construction plans for all the I-49 jobs in Louisiana which have plans available, and all of the lengths involved (according to the signing plans) are to be signed as I-49.

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