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Author Topic: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)  (Read 49264 times)

The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #125 on: May 03, 2016, 04:21:54 PM »

With all the NIMBYs in the world, it's a wonder anything gets built!
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #126 on: May 03, 2016, 09:47:11 PM »

Remember jbnv's idea of a "Big Dig of the South"?? It just might now come to fruition.


The LafayetteConnector.com site has now updated its Tier One options for the I-49 Connector freeway in order to add another concept design alternative. Basically, it's similar to Concept 6A, the partially depressed alternative, but with one difference: the mainline freeway would be covered between Simcoe Street and Taft Street.


Here's an illustration of this new concept (labeled Concept 6B):





One fascinating aspect of both 6A and 6B is that Jefferson Street railroad underpass, and the Sixth Street/Lee Avenue and Johnston Street at-grade rail crossings, are now converted to grade separated overpasses of the BNSF/UP railroad line. Also, Mudd Avenue is now elevated to pass over both I-49 and the parallel Evangeline Thruway access roads.


The 6B option is essentially a variation of the original "cut-and-cover" proposal that was offered through the Lafayette North-South Corridor Study, albeit the original proposal used the Evangeline Thruway through its entire length, rather than the curve closer to the railroad.


One of my original issues with that option was the excessive grade difference between the L&D rail spur crossing and where the depressed/capped section would begin...but that would be less of an issue with the current routing. Disruption during construction and increased risk to the Chicot Aquifier would be major issues.


Thoughts, anyone?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 09:56:23 PM by Anthony_JK »
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Rothman

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #127 on: May 04, 2016, 09:11:53 AM »

I don't know about it coming to fruition.  I'm thinking of the alternatives proposed for the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse, NY.  Alternatives are added when there's enough pressure brought to bear upon a DOT, but just like the tunnel alternative in Syracuse, a "Little Dig" for the Lafayette Connector may just be included for show or appeasement.  Takes a lot of benefit for such a costly endeavor to beat out other, cheaper alternatives.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #128 on: May 04, 2016, 11:09:48 AM »

I don't know about it coming to fruition.  I'm thinking of the alternatives proposed for the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse, NY.  Alternatives are added when there's enough pressure brought to bear upon a DOT, but just like the tunnel alternative in Syracuse, a "Little Dig" for the Lafayette Connector may just be included for show or appeasement.  Takes a lot of benefit for such a costly endeavor to beat out other, cheaper alternatives.

Considering the costs of an elevated viaduct as compared to a partially depressed/fully covered alternative, I would have to see whether or not this "Little Dig" alternative would be more expensive than the fully elevated options.

I do know that it would be far more disruptive due to the needed severing of cross streets, and elevating Mudd Avenue over the Thruway to clear the mainlines is a real issue, especially since it would penetrate Sterling Grove Historical District.

It would most definitely resolve the "Elevated freeways are divisive" issue...though probably not enough for the NIMBYs and New Urbanists who would insist on their "Teche Ridge Bypass + Evangeline Boulevard" fantasy.
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jbnv

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #129 on: May 04, 2016, 07:29:28 PM »

If I were a civil engineering student at UL, I'd strongly consider working on a proposal for the submerged viaduct. Someone could get their career off to a good start with this.

I don't think it's totally implausible. The proposal and plan would have to address the major environmental issues: protecting the Chicot Aquifer, and handling flooding. I would look at the lessons learned from Big Dig and similar projects. I would strongly consider some sort of housing that is prefabricated, with the environmental systems built in, and installed into the channel.

I would also make sure that the plan that I present to the public has a clear vision for the end result. What becomes of the land above and around the viaduct? Almost surely the land immediately above it would become some sort of public park. Perhaps new park grounds for Festival International and Festivals Acadien? Perhaps a transportation hub? (Did they ever build that multimodal transportation hub that was discussed years ago?)

The New Urbanists will probably buy into this idea. But it will be DOA with the environmentalists, because the aquifer. It may be a tough sell for Sterling Grove and other affected neighborhoods, as they will have to endure multiple years of difficulty on a theory.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #130 on: May 05, 2016, 08:26:51 AM »

Well, there is a history behind it: remember that in 1993, the recommended corridor for the Connector for the North/South Corridor study was a depressed/capped freeway between Mudd Avenue and Jefferson Street. That corridor, though assumed the freeway would run directly between the Evangeline Thruway couplet, rather than curve towards downtown like the current alternative. It was the Feds who ultimately rejected that alternative, citing practical issues of construction and the need to maintain I-49 as a hurricane evacuation route.


The current 6A/6B concepts are a bit different than that because they wouldn't depress the freeway as much as the original (10' maximum versus 18'), and the alignment away from Sterling Grove and the Thruway wouldn't be directly as disruptive. The overpasses over the railroad at Johnston, Sixth/Lee, and Jefferson would be quite intriguing as "gateway bridges", especially if visible under Concept 6A.


The capped concept could also be quite nice for using the space above the freeway, as jbnv noted, for development.


BTW, the multimodal transpo facility now exists as the Rosa Parks Transportation Center; located on Cypress Street between Lee and Jefferson streets. They managed to consolidate Amtrak, the city bus system, and Greyhound's national bus service into one building.

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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #131 on: May 05, 2016, 09:38:28 AM »

Welp...I finally got my subscription to the Lafayette Advertiser redone...and I found this this morning. Seems like the usual bit of obstructionism by opponents of the Connector freeway finally got them in trouble with the leaders of the Design Team.


http://klfy.com/ap/highway-official-i-49-opponents-should-quit-design-group/


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2016/05/04/interstate-49-leader-support-connector-resign/83918156/


During the first public meetings discussing the Connector freeway, some members of the Community Work Group had suggested that the "grand boulevard" concept that was originally conceived as a supplement to the Connector freeway alignment instead be built as a standalone concept in place of the freeway. It just so happened that those same members were also the most strident opponents of the Connector freeway for years, having favored for a long time a bypass alternative around the city...mostly, the Teche Ridge bypass through St. Martin Parish.


Toby Picard, who oversees the Connector Design Team for LADOTD, immediately rejected that idea, citing the fact that a boulevard design as a replacement for the Connector is a non-starter since it would not meet Interstate standards and would not complete I-49 South through Lafayette. He probably also saw the implications that a bypass alignment would not be accepted by either LADOTD or FHWA, and that all the design studies were keyed on the Connector freeway as the path for I-49 South.


Almost immediately, those same members pushing the boulevard concept went public, venting that the design team was "stifiling" public comment and not allowing full discussions of alternatives; essentially driving the Connector freeway "down the throats" of Lafayette citizens.


Today, Picard responded through an email essentially asking those opponents to resign from the CWG, and reinforcing the Design Team's and LADOTD's commitment to building the Connector freeway as approved through the current process.


I already see the usual opponents readying the next lawsuit. Bring it. It will go like the last one did.




UPDATE: Now also this article at the Acadiana Advocate:


http://theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/15691227-123/dotd-says-i-49-connector-likely-will-be-interstate-citizens-who-want-alternative-should-step-down

« Last Edit: May 05, 2016, 10:27:24 AM by Anthony_JK »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #132 on: May 11, 2016, 10:46:33 AM »

Two more Lafayette Advertiser Op-Eds for the Connector that encompass the roiling debate:

First, an Editorial by the paper itself posted on May 3rd, accusing LADOTD and FHWA of "stonewalling" the public by not allowing adequate feedback on the freeway alternatives (and, supposedly, alternative corridors or reduced scope alternatives such as the "boulevard" concept):

http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/opinion/2016/05/03/editorial-time-speak-up--49/83890070/


And then, the official response from LADOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, posted on Monday, defending the Connector Study's public input process:

http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/opinion/2016/05/09/wilson-public-has-been-allowed-input--49-connector/84136024/

This snippage from Wilson's guest editorial gives me much hope (bolded emphasis added by me):

Quote
We have not been shy that our intent is not to reconsider or re-evaluate decisions made in the past. We are focused on advancing the project within the scope of the decisions that have been made.

At every event, and at every opportunity, the community has been encouraged to share ideas, opinions and questions — via comment cards, yes, but also in person with DOTD and LCP staff, via email, the project website, and social media. Even workshops exercises are carefully documented and reported on, viewable on LafayetteConnector.com.

There are a few strident opponents in the community who demand that the DOTD provide a public forum for them to rail against the project or debate issues long since settled. This, they claim, is the only way they can be truly “heard.” We accept there will always be some opposition to a project such as this, but we must honor the commitments that have been made to the community and work together toward a project we can all be proud of.

The Connector can be a model for balancing transportation needs with development opportunities and working together on common challenges. I am disappointed that in this case accuracy and fairness seem to be in such short supply. Our community deserves better than one-sided ideas and reporting that puts controversy ahead of the public’s interest.

Secretary Wilson gets an "A-MEN" (and "A-WOMEN") from me for that alone.

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jbnv

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #133 on: May 11, 2016, 11:00:09 AM »

This snippage from Wilson's guest editorial gives me much hope (bolded emphasis added by me):

Quote
There are a few strident opponents in the community who demand that the DOTD provide a public forum for them to rail against the project or debate issues long since settled. This, they claim, is the only way they can be truly “heard.” We accept there will always be some opposition to a project such as this, but we must honor the commitments that have been made to the community and work together toward a project we can all be proud of.

Mr. Wilson gets it. These opponents won't accept a proposal based on decades of research and study. They want it their way. They will talk the project to death if they can.
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Bobby5280

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #134 on: May 11, 2016, 01:46:18 PM »

The 6B design alternative should be something that would make everyone happy, as long as it can properly address concerns about flooding and safeguard the Chicot Aquifier.

There's a few other places in the country where freeways have been effectively hidden with caps or wide, decorative crossings. In downtown Dallas, Klyde Warren Park caps the Woodall Rodgers Freeway for 3 blocks. That allows downtown to merge with Victory Park without the freeway posing any obstruction.

The cap being proposed in Lafayette would be significantly longer though. Residents would have to put up with some serious traffic issues during construction. However, the problems of disconnected streets and other obstructions would disappear once the project was finished.

I think other long un-finished highway projects, like Watkins Drive in Kansas City, could be completed using cut & cover techniques or at least depressing the freeway under elaborate, park-like crossings. There are numerous examples of that in Seattle.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #135 on: May 12, 2016, 10:54:35 AM »

The 6B design alternative should be something that would make everyone happy, as long as it can properly address concerns about flooding and safeguard the Chicot Aquifier.

There's a few other places in the country where freeways have been effectively hidden with caps or wide, decorative crossings. In downtown Dallas, Klyde Warren Park caps the Woodall Rodgers Freeway for 3 blocks. That allows downtown to merge with Victory Park without the freeway posing any obstruction.

The cap being proposed in Lafayette would be significantly longer though. Residents would have to put up with some serious traffic issues during construction. However, the problems of disconnected streets and other obstructions would disappear once the project was finished.

I think other long un-finished highway projects, like Watkins Drive in Kansas City, could be completed using cut & cover techniques or at least depressing the freeway under elaborate, park-like crossings. There are numerous examples of that in Seattle.

The more I look at Concept 6B, the more there is to like about it.

There are some fundamental differences between this new proposal and the original LN/SCS "cut and cover" concept.



Diagram of original "cut-and-cover" plaza concept from Lafayette North-South Corridor Study -- 1993

The original 1993 study concept would have sunk the I-49 mainlines some 20 feet below the surface and aligned it directly along the median of the existing Evangeline Thruway from Mudd Avenue to Jefferson Street, following the "EA-1" alignment. That would have posed a real threat of flooding and hampered it's ability as a hurricane evacuation route; plus, the disruptions during construction for residents along the Thruway and for Sterling Grove District would have been overwhelming.



Concept 6B (Partially Depressed & Capped I-49 Connector Mainline) -- via LafayetteConnector.com

By contrast, Concept 6B (and Concept 6A, without the cap) avoids that by only depressing the mainlines 10 feet below the surface, and uses the approved alignment in the core area away from the Thruway. This would place the mainline "trench" above the 100-year floodplain line of the Vermillion River basin, significantly reducing both the risk of flooding and the possibility of penetrating the Chicot Aquifier sands. Also, in order to maintain cross-street connectibility, the railroad crossings at Johnston, Sixth/Lee, and Jefferson streets are converted to grade-separated overpasses. The cap would also allow for development and hardscaping of the space above the freeway for public use.

The only drawbacks I can see that may need to be tweaked for 6B to work better are: 1) Cypress Street downtown would be depressed and disconnected from both Jefferson and Lee in order to allow the railroad overpasses to work; and 2) Mudd Avenue would have to be elevated above the Thruway and the I-49 mainlanes, with the structure possibly extending into Sterling Grove District.

Also, with such a change from the original, a Supplemental EIS would probably be required for environmental clearance.

The key issue, as always, though, is $$$$$. Would 6B be that much more costly than the elevated options?

Anything that breaks the logjam and gets this built is fine by me.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 11:11:57 AM by Anthony_JK »
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jbnv

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #136 on: May 12, 2016, 11:33:03 AM »

Instead of elevating Mudd Avenue, we could just eliminate the Mudd Avenue interchange and cut Mudd Ave. into two separate streets. Reroute US 90 down University Ave. or Amb. Caffery. Rename Mudd Ave west as Cameron Street to reinforce the breach.

Traffic that currently uses Mudd Avenue to cross the Thruway would have to use Willow, Simcoe or 2nd/3rd Sts. instead. That means less traffic through Stirling Grove, so they should support this idea. It also gives the city incentive to clean up Simcoe Street between the Thruway and Louisiana Ave.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #137 on: May 12, 2016, 11:51:05 AM »

Instead of elevating Mudd Avenue, we could just eliminate the Mudd Avenue interchange and cut Mudd Ave. into two separate streets. Reroute US 90 down University Ave. or Amb. Caffery. Rename Mudd Ave west as Cameron Street to reinforce the breach.

Traffic that currently uses Mudd Avenue to cross the Thruway would have to use Willow, Simcoe or 2nd/3rd Sts. instead. That means less traffic through Stirling Grove, so they should support this idea. It also gives the city incentive to clean up Simcoe Street between the Thruway and Louisiana Ave.

Mudd Avenue would not be an interchange under any option: the roadway would simply be grade separated over the Thruway and the mainlines. The north ramps to/from I-49 would connect with the Thruway at Simcoe Street.

The problem with severing Mudd is that it is still a decent collector street to the west; it turns into Cameron Street and carries US 90 and LA 94.

Perhaps the overpass can be tweaked so that it doesn't penetrate into the district, and access roads could be built to connect Mudd to the Thruway lanes.

Fixing Simcoe Street to transition into the Second-Third couplet and carrying US 90 over that to Congress Street and then University Avenue to Cameron Street? That would be a plan.
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jbnv

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #138 on: May 12, 2016, 12:55:15 PM »

The problem with severing Mudd is that it is still a decent collector street to the west; it turns into Cameron Street and carries US 90 and LA 94.

I'm not aware that LA 94 was ever routed onto Mudd Avenue. It formerly went down Simcoe, but now follows Louisiana Avenue to the Thruway.

The US 90 routing on Cameron St. is virtually useless within the city limits. Hence I'm suggesting to reroute it down University Avenue (using much of the existing business route) or Amb. Caffery.

I have no idea what the current traffic flow through that intersection is like. I doubt that it is so high that it will upset traffic flow through that area by severing the link. The Acadian Ambulance headquarters is in that area not far from Cameron. I can't think of anything else in the area that absolutely must have that link.

Bonus: If Mudd Avenue is no longer a thru-artery, it can be reconfigured into a neighborhood road. Give it a bike lane in each direction and reduce it to two lanes with a center turning lane.

Fixing Simcoe Street to transition into the Second-Third couplet and carrying US 90 over that to Congress Street and then University Avenue to Cameron Street? That would be a plan.

Aren't we as a nation moving away from routing US highways through the heart of cities? There's almost no navigation value to having US 90 routed through the heart of Lafayette. The only benefit the current routing provides is ensuring that all of Evangeline Thruway is a US route. Building the Connector will obviate that. Even before that, we could make the Thruway Business I-49. Or reroute US 90 onto I-10 somewhere west of I-49 and put US 90 on the Thruway at I-49.
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Grzrd

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #139 on: May 17, 2016, 06:28:15 PM »

Routing I-49 on the East side of Lafayette might not be very cheap or easy to build. Some of that land is swamp land or wetlands. Environmentalists might not be happy at all with a super highway going through that area.
As I said earlier, I think that's why the Sierra Club and their ilk want that route. If we abandon the Connector for Teche Ridge, they'll sue to stop it. They want to kill the project altogether and force Lafayette into a "new urban" plan.

In this May 11 Letter to the Editor, Harold Schoeffler, member of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s Connector Community Working Group representing the Acadian Group of the Sierra Club, expresses his displeasure with the community involvement process so far and possibly confirms jbnv's suspicion by opining that "perhaps a 16th option should be an option where the project is not built":

Quote
... DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson has stated that there has been public input. He obviously didn’t attend the meetings that I attended.
The first meetings were filled with a DOTD agenda where the committee members had no time for input. At one meeting where I spoke out, the chairman shut me down. This process so far has been in violation of the Louisiana Open Meetings law ....
With 14 options (and now 15) at present, we are being asked to select the least offensive one to the community. Perhaps a 16th option should be an option where the project is not built.
In conclusion, DOTD has violated the Freedom of Information Act, the Open Meeting Law and the right to free speech.  These are violations of the public trust.



Buckle up, folks...the ride just got a bit more bumpy.

Yep.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #140 on: May 18, 2016, 01:22:56 AM »

It should be noted that Harold Schoeffler was one of the original plaintiffs of the 2003 lawsuit from the Concerned Citizens group that attempted to block the original I-49 Connector Record of Decision on the grounds that the selected corridor violated environmental laws and that his beloved Teche Ridge Bypass wasn't selected. He lost that round badly, it should be noted.


Open Meetings Laws violations?? Really?? Just because his alternative that would have killed the Connector from the beginning was (correctly) rejected as being beyond the scope of the process?


No time for input?? When there were already scores of meetings where not only the public but CWG members got to input ideas and thoughts? And, in response, additional alternative concepts were added??


And of course, they want a "No Build" option....that was the goal from the beginning of them infiltrating the process: to kill this project and force Teche Ridge on DOTD and FHWA.


I guess we'll just have to see another lawsuit. Bring it, fools.




[UPDATE] Just vented my spleen in the comments section attached to Mr. Schoeffler's LTTE. Click on the "Comments" icon on the left sidebar.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 01:59:17 AM by Anthony_JK »
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jbnv

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #141 on: May 18, 2016, 07:54:18 AM »

Schoeffler and his family previously owned a Cadillac dealership in Lafayette. (Oh the irony.) I wonder what they are doing with their money these days. Perhaps buying land in western St. Martin Parish? ...

Speculation aside, we're talking about someone with roots in the Lafayette business scene. We can safely assume that there are quite a few people looking to profit from the Connector or its demise.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #142 on: May 18, 2016, 01:10:32 PM »

To Anthony, jbnv, and other Forum denizens/ interested persons of the I-49 South corridor: belated Happy I-49 South Day!  :cheers::

Quote
The I-49 South Coalition traveled to the Capitol here Tuesday for its quarterly meeting, where members were joined by Louisiana Secretary of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson in conjunction with National Infrastructure Week and a proclamation from Gov. John Bel Edwards declaring it "I-49 South Day."

I trust everyone has a clear head today.  Mardi What?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 05:42:19 PM by Grzrd »
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #143 on: May 18, 2016, 03:27:13 PM »

Now if they could just complete the entire I-49 South corridor. Then we'll be in business.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #144 on: May 19, 2016, 09:50:33 AM »

To Anthony, jbnv, and other Forum denizens/ interested persons of the I-49 South corridor: belated Happy I-49 South Day!  :cheers::

Quote
The I-49 South Coalition traveled to the Capitol here Tuesday for its quarterly meeting, where members were joined by Louisiana Secretary of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson in conjunction with National Infrastructure Week and a proclamation from Gov. John Bel Edwards declaring it "I-49 South Day."

I trust everyone has a clear head today.  Mardi What?


Gov John Bel is a cool blast of fresh air compared to Piyush Jindal...but he really needs to hold off on the declarations until he secures funding for I-49 South, and guarantees its ultimate construction.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #145 on: May 21, 2016, 01:26:20 PM »

Another week and more updates:


The Connector designers just announced last week that they have added five new concept alternatives to the already long list of 14 alternative concepts for the I-49 Lafayette Connector freeway. Illustrations follow.



Concept 4E - Two-Way Evangeline Thruway Connectivity with Johnston Street RR Grade Separation


This is essentially Concept 4C but with the Johnston Street railroad underpass added.





Concept 4F - Evangeline Parkway with Johnston Street RR Grade Separation


Essentially Concept 4D with the Johnston St. underpass added.




The other additions are variations of the newly developed Concept 6, which would partially depress and cap the Connector freeway while using earthern berns to connect the two sides over the I-49 mainline freeway.





Concept 6C - Depressed Capped I-49 Mainline with Relocated/Adjusted Johnston Street-Louisiana Avenue Connection To Evangeline Thruway


This would shift Johnston Street's railroad overpass and its connections with Evangeline Thruway and Louisiana Avenue a bit northward to relieve the harsh curve. Sixth St and Jefferson St. would be severed. Also, the previous overpass of the Thruway and mainline I-49 at Mudd Avenue would be eliminated; and Mudd Avenue would be severed but connected to the Thruway couplet. The ramp connections from/to north I-49 to the Thruway Simcoe Street would be eliminated, too; access would be shifted the Willow Street interchange further north.





Concept 6D - Depressed Capped I-49 Mainline with Severed Mudd Avenue Connection


This is essentially Concept 6A, but with the Mudd Avenue overpass eliminated. Also, the Sixth Street/Lee Avenue overcrossing would be redefined as a pedestrian/bicycle-friendly path across the freeway/railroad. Like 6C, the ramps at Simcoe Street would also be eliminated, and Mudd Avenue severed to end at the Thruway couplet.





Concept 6E - Depressed-Capped I-49 Mainline with Depressed Capped Relocated BNSF RR


This is probably the most radical concept offered; it would relocate and then depress the existing BNSF/UP rail line at the same level as the Connector freeway, extending the bern over both to include property on the west side of the rail line. This would allow Second and Third Streets to be grade separated above the railway for better access. The existing Amtrak station at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center would be extended to meet the relocated railroad (probably covered below grade). However, depressing and realigning the railroad would require the closing of the Taft and Simcoe Street crossings; and require the retention of the Mudd Avenue overpass of the Thruway couplet.


At the May 19th meetings announcing the new alternatives, there was opposition from City of Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit to the depressed and tunnelled alternatives; he cited possible issues with emergency providers getting to accidents under the tunneled structures, as well as the possibility of flooding removing critical routes for emergency personnel. Most seemed to like the tweaks to Concept 4 alternatives; but there was also those who came out in opposition to the entire project as well.


Also...the Lafayette Sierra Club (led by long time Connector opponent Harold Schoeffler) announced their organization's official opposition to the entire Connector project, citing their concerns that "the public" wasn't allowed to offer alternatives to the corridor, and possible contamination of the Chicot Aquifier. They have also filed a petition stating their opposition to Governor John Bel Edwards and the DOTD and FHWA. Their "Y-49" Facebook page can be found here.


So it goes...




Also....my 1,000th post to this illustrious board. Has it been that long? Thanks for putting up with me.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 01:35:01 PM by Anthony_JK »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #146 on: June 03, 2016, 10:01:28 AM »

Another week of updates and more developments in the emerging soap opera called As The I-49 Lafayette Connector Turns...




Last Friday, the Evangeline Corridor Initiative (ECI) group -- the ones doing the study on integrating the Connector freeway with the surrounding neighborhoods that was funded by the DOJ TIGER Grant -- held a public meeting where they revealed their initial design concepts and visions. That study is related to, but independent from, the official Conceptual Design study now ongoing by FHWA and DOTD to refine and begin design work for the Connector freeway.


Their initial proposals have sparked a bit of a conflict with the official Connector Design Team, because the ECI essentially took two of the 19 conceptual designs already proposed and now being studied by the Design Team, and made some adjustments to them in order to fit their objectives and goals. The ECI essentially tweaked Concept 4D (the elevated freeway with Evangeline Thruway converted into an urban boulevard), and more radically refined Concept 6E (depressed and covered freeway, but eliminating the depressed and covered railroad line and shifting the freeway mainline to eliminate the need for railroad overpasses).


Some illustrations here of what the ECI team has proposed:


I-49 Connector Elevated Mainline




Mostly, this is Concept 4D, but with a flatter curve and the mainline centered on Chestnut Street between the N/B Thruway and the railroad.






I-49 Connector Depressed Covered Mainline




In the original Concept 6E, both the freeway mainline and the railroad was shifted east and depressed and capped, and the cover extended into downtown and the Thruway. The revision (6F???) returns the railroad to its original ROW, and shifts the mainline freeway east about 150' by flattening the curve, thusly resulting in a much less severe bern that eliminates the need for overpasses of the railroad. Notice also in the illustrations that there are options for shifting the Evangeline Thruway over the covered mainline or utilizing the urban boulevard concept (or even both).




And, here's a pretty funky concept design for Willow Street and Northgate Mall.


I-49 Connector at Willow Street Interchange





The main conflict with the official Connector Design Team was that they had already passed the deadline for their relevant committees to offer up concept alternatives for vetting, and initially LADOTD Connector design lead Toby Ricard wasn't willing to allow ECI to add their new revisions to the 19 that had already been proposed for detailed analysis. Picard had even claimed that ECI had overshot their directives in offering these revisions, saying that they were only supposed to intervene with design plans only after the Design Team had selected a final concept.


However, after some pressure from Lafayette Consolidate Government Councilman Bruce Conque, Picard blinked a bit and said yesterday in an email to the Design Team that if the entire Concept 4 and 6 series now evaluated by the Design Team Executive Committee makes it past the initial Tier 1 analysis, the ECI revisions to 4D and 6E could then be added and vetted properly in the subsequent Tier 2 and Tier 3 evaluations.


This could not have come at a better time, too, because those opposed to the very idea of the Connector freeway through Lafayette are now gathering their arms for a battle. The anti-Connector "Y-49" Facebook group now has a petition afloat with now nearly 300 signees asking DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson to abandon the project. (Fat chance on that, since Wilson is on the Executive Committee of the Connector Design Team, and has previously defended the choice of the Connector alignment.) There is now also a blog, disguised as "informational", but in reality rehashing all the old arguments against the Connector; and proponents of the Teche Ridge Bypass going through east Lafayette and St. Martin Parish have started their own Facebook page, with some editorial support from the St. Martinville local paper Teche News.


Buckle up, y'all..it's about to get real.

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jbnv

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #147 on: June 03, 2016, 10:29:56 AM »

And, here's a pretty funky concept design for Willow Street and Northgate Mall.

I-49 Connector at Willow Street Interchange


Wow. Nothing's going to say "Welcome to one of the most French parts of the United States" like driving through a structure that most non-locals will think is the Arc de Triomphe. Hopefully it would come with demolition of both Northgate Mall and the ancient shopping center on the other side of the Thruway, and complete redevelopment of both lots.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #148 on: June 03, 2016, 11:09:41 AM »

I think it's funny that LA is the most France-like state, what with the existence of New Orleans and the pic above, and it's in the Deep South, as opposed to bordering on the Canadian province of QC (where Montreal and Quebec City are).
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #149 on: June 03, 2016, 11:26:40 AM »

I think it's funny that LA is the most France-like state, what with the existence of New Orleans and the pic above, and it's in the Deep South, as opposed to bordering on the Canadian province of QC (where Montreal and Quebec City are).

That's largely thanks to the British being intolerant jerks and expelling the Acadians from eastern Canada. If not for that, there would be no Acadiana and no Cajun people or culture.

There's also the fact that the French liked having control of that big river. (So did the Spanish, for that matter. Had history worked out a bit different, we might be speaking Spanish instead of French.)
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