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Author Topic: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)  (Read 11392 times)

Anthony_JK

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I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« on: February 08, 2020, 10:41:19 AM »

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.



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Gordon

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2020, 12:32:45 PM »

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?
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Gordon

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #2 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.
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wdcrft63

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2020, 06:24:41 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.
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.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2020, 01:42:03 PM »

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





« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 02:09:50 PM by Anthony_JK »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2020, 01:44:27 PM »

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?

The workshops cover the CSS design of the structural features for the bridge and ramp structures. The study of soil testing and the potential of contamination is a separate issue that would be covered through the Supplemental EIS process.
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Gordon

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2020, 05:05:52 PM »

I think it in May this year they going to do soil core testing in the area along railroad. I haven't looked at the above grade part of the connector but if the part along the railroad was at ground level I can't see it would ever contaminate the Chicot Aquifer.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2020, 06:00:38 PM »

Is there a chance that the Lafayette Connector may be canceled, and Interstate 49 South to New Orleans might be abandoned? Not that I advocate them doing so in any way, shape, or form, but it always remains a possibility. I'm sure the Sierra Club guy would love that.
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RoadMaster09

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #8 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.

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The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2020, 07:03:55 PM »

Too fictional, RoadMaster09. Take it to Fictional Highways.
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BrandonC_TX

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2020, 07:46:58 PM »

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.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2020, 07:49:14 PM by BrandonC_TX »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2020, 01:35:41 AM »

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.



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.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 01:43:34 AM by Anthony_JK »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2020, 01:40:20 AM »

Too fictional, RoadMaster09. Take it to Fictional Highways.

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.

lrxpressway.com (Lafayette Metro eXpressway site)

[Update: fixed the broken link to the LRX site]
« Last Edit: September 09, 2020, 03:33:48 PM by Anthony_JK »
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #13 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.
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mgk920

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2020, 04:52:17 PM »

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

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).

Mike
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bwana39

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2020, 12:10:05 PM »

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

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).

Mike

I-49 from I-10 in Lafayette  to downtown New Orleans is like a path through the woods to grandma's house.  It is going to get built before anything else. Whether you think it is needed, whether you think it is economical, or even if you feel it is duplicative,  Louisiana wants it.

As to the duplication, that is the point. 
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2020, 03:15:54 PM »

Are there any construction dates on when more of US 90 will be upgraded to freeway standards, and thus bringing it closer to becoming Interstate 49 (excluding the segment in Lafayette)?
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Gordon

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2020, 09:02:47 PM »

There is the Rail spur  removal Southeast of LA 85 in June 9th of 2021. I think they finally settled on that.
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Plutonic Panda

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2021, 12:21:46 PM »

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Henry

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2021, 10:09:05 AM »

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.



I have a feeling I've seen this before:

http://www.ajfroggie.com/roads/fictional/louisiana/i010/i010.htm

In the New Orleans area, I-55 would be extended over "old" I-10 to end in the city, and the remainder to Baton Rouge would then be renumbered to an I-x55 (although an I-x12 could also be used).
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2021, 01:09:37 PM »

That is essentially what was the original proposal for the Lafayette Regional Expressway toll loop.


The current LRX proposal pushes the bypass a bit further out than that; generally paralleling LA 343 (Fieldspan Road) south to round out Maurice, then generally straight to the east to meet US 90/Future I-49 South at the current LA 88 (Coteau Road) interchange. There is also an extension from there eastward to LA 182 near Cade to connect with Acadiana Regional Airport.


The loop was moved further out due to public reaction and the idea of a more direct hurricane evacuation route for Maurice, Abbeville, and Vermilion Parish. The latest preferred alternative would meet US 167 at Maurice, where the latter transitions from N/S straight down to Abbeville to NE going towards Lafayette.


It still would be too far away to be a feasible alternative to the Lafayette Connector/US 90 upgrade.

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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2021, 01:20:02 PM »

Are there any construction dates on when more of US 90 will be upgraded to freeway standards, and thus bringing it closer to becoming Interstate 49 (excluding the segment in Lafayette)?

It's coming along, but slow.

The next phase of the upgrade in lower Lafayette Parish is due to kick up soon, with the construction of the South Ambassador Caffrey Parkway interchange and extension of the one-way frontage road system over the BNSF/UP main rail line and LA 182 to meet up with the ACP interchange. This would extend the completed segment which includes the finished overpass at Albertson's Parkway/St. Nazaire Road and the improved mainline railroad overpass and frontage road connections with LA 182 east/LA 92.

Prelim engineering and environmental approval is still pending for the Verot School Road proposed interchange with US 90/I-49 South that would be just south of the limits of the Lafayette Connector project.

Other than that, and the proposed removal of the Jeanerette railroad grade crossing? Not much, and probably awaiting and hoping for more funding by both the state and feds.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2021, 11:37:00 PM »

It looks like this project is getting a whopping 50 million to get started:

https://www.houmatoday.com/story/news/2021/04/20/stimulus-bill-includes-money-49-south-louisiana-but-nowhere-near-total-needed/7299098002/?fbclid=IwAR2je-IbdXsKKONV7llekm60cyXAT8clujF6_YqrQ21-x_H8kiRyEs-diSk

I'm guessing that that money, if approved, will be used to build the Ambassador Caffery Parkway South interchange and frontage road system, and complete the environmental and engineering studies for the remainder of the I-49 South project.

The Lafayette Connector is probably still a year away from getting decent funding, but let's see what Biden's infrastructure plan gives us.

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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 Lafayette Connector/I-49 South Update (The Sequel)
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2021, 11:31:53 PM »

An update, since it's been a while:

Stage 1 of the neighborhood workshops has now been completed as of last week, where community input on the latest features and proposed alternatives of the I-49 Lafayette Connector freeway has been received. It's been unusually quiet, with not much shouting from the usual opponents of the project, though it's still a bit early in the process.

The Connector website has now included in their webpage a FAQ section where they answer some questions about the current SEIS/CSS/Section 106 process and the pathway to a completed Supplemental ROD, including ROW acquisition, the  corresponding upgrade to the Evangeline Thruway segment paralleling the elevated central section (whether the current one-way street couplet remains or the "urban boulevard" concept centered on the southbound Thruway ROW is built), and the possibility of rehabilitating the old railroad yard property that will be remediated for hazardous waste removal before the project begins.

The alignment is essentially now set in stone as what was approved in 2003; but with some changes in design concept. The only remaining primary issue is whether the southbound entry ramp to access downtown Lafayette will be braided with the southbound entry ramp from Willow Street or whether it will be shifted further south to just south of Mudd Avenue to access Second Street. Secondary issues are the vertical clearance of the elevated viaduct section (now set at 22.5 feet, but some want it to be as high as 30 feet), and whether the cleanup of the former SP rail yard will be paid for fully by LADOTD or will it be stand alone prior to construction.

Timing is still set for a Draft SEIS to be published by this fall, with a Final SEIS/SROD signed by spring of 2022.
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