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

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Anthony_JK:
Since it has been quite a while since I've posted fresh news about this project, I decided that a new thread would be better than jumping the old one.


Last week LADOTD sent out a press release stating that they were now ready to resume the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process for the proposed I-49 Lafayette Connector project, which would create a freeway along the Evangeline Thruway/US 90/US 167 corridor from just south of Lafayette Regional Airport to the current southern terminus of I-49 at the I-10 interchange.


The CSS process had initially started back in August of 2015, but got delayed due to community opposition to the original design of the alternative that was approved in Feburary 2003 with a Record of Decision from FHWA and LaDOTD. A Corridor Refinement Process was initiated in August of 2016 to develop alternative design concepts, which got reduced down to two finalist concepts for the core section going through the heart of Lafayette: an continuously elevated freeway and a partially depressed freeway that would be either open in a trench or completely covered. Ultimately, in spite of some very strong support in the community for the partially depressed design approach, it was deemed to be too expensive, too destructive, and incompatible with the Purpose and Need for the project; the continuous elevated was retained as the main design feature.


Also during that time, it was decided that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) would be appropriate due to the main changes in the design and the length of time since the 2003 ROD.


The two remaining Refinement Alternatives that were revealed in 2017 will be further studied and analyzed as part of the SEIS process, with a Draft SEIS document scheduled for release to the public roughly in the Winter of 2020, and a final SEIS/ROD issued in the spring of 2021. This will include the resolution of the CSS process towards a Master Plan for both the freeway ROW and the surrounding neighborhoods.


Both Refinement Alternatives would involve a continuously elevated freeway within the Evangeline Thruway corridor, with the exception of a central tangent section between Simcoe and Taft streets that would be offset one block to the west of the existing Thruway couplet. Both alternatives contain options for keeping the Thruway's existing one-way couplet or building an "urban boulevard" segment using the southbound Thruway roadway ROW augmented to the west (the existing northbound Thruway roadway would be converted back to a two-way local street). Both alternatives would also contain options for raising the height of the elevated viaduct section to a minimum of 30 feet rather than the originally proposed 22 feet of the 2003 ROD.


In addition, both Refinement Alternatives would have major changes in access with local streets from the original 2003 ROD Selected Alternative. The original interchange with E. University Avenue/Surrey Street would be moved to Pinhook Road a bit further north; the Kaliste Saloom Road interchange would be modified from a 3-level fully directional T to a 2-level "half-diverging diamond T" to eliminate height conflicts with LRA/LFT; the University/Surrey underpass would be depressed below ground level to reduce the height of the I-49 overpass to eliminate a potential conflict with the flight path of LFT Runway 11-9; and roundabouts were developed on the north segment to allow free flow access at the Donlon Avenue and Castille Avenue/Martin Luther King Drive intersections with the frontage roads/Evangeline Thruway local roadways.


The primary difference is that one alternative braids the south access ramps between the I-49 mainline and the Thruway with the south ramps to the Willow Street interchange; while the other alternative shifts the access ramp from southbound I-49 to the Thruway further south near Mudd Avenue.


Visuals for the two finalist Refinement Alternatives, as well as for the original 2003 ROD Selected Alternative, are available via the official Lafayette Connector website.


Obviously, as more information is revealed and the process continues, this space will be updated.



Gordon:
I see where going to have 2 workshops online September 9th and 17th. How did the soil testing come out  that they did in earlier of this year for contamination that might get in the ground water?

Gordon:
https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/letters/article_e01e76ec-db17-11ea-a4e5-6742be0577df.html I thought they getting over the backlash about this connector but this article seems still a fight to move forward, Dated AUG. 11th 2020.

wdcrft63:

--- Quote from: Gordon on September 06, 2020, 05:06:20 PM ---https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/letters/article_e01e76ec-db17-11ea-a4e5-6742be0577df.html I thought they getting over the backlash about this connector but this article seems still a fight to move forward, Dated AUG. 11th 2020.

--- End quote ---
I am not in a position to comment on this project way or another, but I can tell you from North Carolina experience that the Sierra Club does not give up as long as they can see another way to oppose a project.

Anthony_JK:
Of course, Harold Schoeffler of the Sierra Club, one of the OG opponents of the Connector project from the very beginning.

The actual former Southern Pacific rail yard was abandoned well over 50 years ago, and the property is now mostly either abandoned or is industrial. The changes in the design of the project for this latest update eliminate the interchanges that would have spanned the former railyard property, decreasing the risk of contamination.

Bypasses are simply not financially nor physically feasible, since the costs would be prohibitive and would not relieve any bit of traffic from the Evangeline Thruway; and given the commitment to updates to US 90 and the completion of some portions of the upgrades, such as the Albertson's Parkway/St. Nazaire Road interchange, it is essentially a moot point anyway.

But, totally expected that all the old opponents would rise up with this latest iteration of the Connector. Hopefully, proponents are prepared for them.



UPDATE: Just posted a response letter to Mr. Schoeffler:


https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/opinion/letters/article_e01e76ec-db17-11ea-a4e5-6742be0577df.html?mode=comments&sr_source=lift_amplify





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