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Author Topic: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)  (Read 49715 times)

Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #150 on: June 15, 2016, 07:19:01 PM »

Big news today from LADOTD: they announced that they and the FHWA would go ahead and prepare a Supplemental EIS for the I-49 Lafayette Connector project. This reflects the reaction to public feedback on the elevated freeway option that was approved in the 2003 Record of Decision, combined with the ongoing LADOTD/FHWA Conceptual Design Study and the Lafayette Consolidated Government-led Evangeline Corridor Initiative studies.

Based on the timing, the SEIS would be concluded with a revised Record of Decision around Spring of 2018, which would give LADOTD and FHWA, with assistance from LCG, enough time to do a complete assessment of newer alternatives that were proposed in the Conceptual Design Study; as well as some proposals coming out of the ECI study process. In particular, an SEIS will allow the addition of a recent proposal from ECI that would replace the elevated freeway option with a partially depressed/tunneled mainline through the central core area.

The ECI proposal would shift the centerline of the mainline in the downtown area east approximately 150 feet from the proposed concepts initiated by DOTD, effectively centering the mainline on Chestnut Street midway between the southbound Evangeline Thruway roadway and the BNSF/UP railroad. This would allow a less severe slope for the covering of the mainline, and eliminate the need for any overpasses of the railroad.


It should be noted that this SEIS would only cover the Connector alternative ROW, and would not allow consideration of any alternative corridors such as the Teche Ridge Bypass or any other bypass alternatives.

I would think that this wouldn't necessarily affect the ongoing Conceptual Design or the ECI studies.

The announcement is now posted at the DOTD official website here.


UPDATE: The Lafayette Advertiser now has updated its article on the SEIS announcement with reaction comments from one of the Connector's most ardent opponents, Lafayette Sierra Club spokesman Harold Schoeffler:


Quote
The department said it is assessing the the study completed in 2003 with a Record of Decision to created a supplemental document that will "be appropriate for assessing or documenting possible changes within the approved alignment.

But the new document will be done "in lieu" of a re-evaluation, or entirely new study, which is what opponents of the connector, particularity the Acadian Group of the Sierra Cub, have been calling for.

"This announcement makes it look like they are doing something for their money," said Harold Schoeffler, chairman of the Acadian Group of the Sierra Club. "A supplemental EIS? Well, that’s a Band-Aid on a problem. So much has changed with this issue over time."

The most significant change, Schoeffler said, comes from 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' 2009 settlement, which determined that sites owned and operated by Union Pacific Railroad are contaminated.

"It says that the path of this project is in a highly contaminated industrial rail site. When that decision was made by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, this project should have been stopped," he said. “Supplemental is kind of visiting the original and touching on upgrades. There’s nothing in this current study or evaluating contamination of rail sites."

What Schoeffler is arguing is pure BS. The 2009 decision only stated that the former railyard sites are contaminated and subject to cleanup under LA Department of Environmental Quality and EPA rules; and the mandate of the Record of Decision already requires a full cleanup of any site affected by the encroachment of freeway ROW. A shift to a partially depressed/covered freeway would most definitely ensure a full cleanup of the site; and would guarantee maximum effort to not encroach upon the Chicot Aquifier, which serves as the main source of Lafayette's drinking water.

His only real gripe with the SEIS is that it doesn't include his beloved Teche Ridge Bypass. Too. Damn. Bad.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2016, 12:44:17 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 #151 on: June 17, 2016, 08:41:30 AM »


Update #2 on the last post:


Today's Lafayette Advertiser has a lead article confirming that the Evangeline Corridor Initiative's alterations to the Connector freeway design -- including their tunneled design -- will be incorporated into the new Supplemental EIS now planned for the project.


Quote
The state Department of Transportation and Development has agreed to evaluate community input collected from the Evangeline Corridor Initiative Design Charrette as it drafts an updated environmental impact study document.

Toby Picard, DOTD project manager, confirmed the department’s plans in an email Thursday to Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Bruce Conque.

“LCG has transmitted the work of the Evangeline Corridor Initiative Design Charrette to the DOTD/Lafayette Connector Partners Team,” Picard said. “We realize and acknowledge that there is interest within parts of the community to further explore the potential revisions that resulted from that work.”

Picard added that the team will be investigating the feasibility of those ideas as it works through the supplementary impact study and as its continues the connector’s refinement process.

Naturally, as I previously reported, opponents of the Connector who would prefer the Teche Ridge Bypass through eastern Lafayette and St. Martin Parish aren't too happy with this development.

Quote
But supplementary EIS is under criticism by the Acadian Group of the Sierra Club because it is not a new study and it not taking into the account contaminated sites along the connector’s proposed route, the organization said.

A 2009 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision determined that sites owned and operated by Union Pacific Railroad are contaminated with several hazardous chemicals.

"This should be done in a new environmental impact study," said Harold Schoeffler, chairman of the Acadian Group of the Sierra Club. "Because that would bring in the issue of an alternative, bypassing this contamination."

OTOH, it looks like the supporters of the project are finally getting tired of the nonsense, and are rallying forward.

Quote
Thursday morning, One Acadiana CEO and President Jason El Koubi issued a statement encouraging Interstate 49 connector supporters to “speak up loudly and frequently" against further project delays.

He said a majority of Lafayette Parish voters support the 5.5-mile connector through the city and the completion of the I-49 corridor from Lafayette to New Orleans.

Without addressing specific organizations, El Koubi criticized those opposing the project.

“Are we going to let a small but vocal group kill this project, as they are currently petitioning?” El Koubi said.  “That would be a devastating blow to the future of our community and region: worsening traffic congestion, cutting off economic opportunities, neglecting health and safety concerns, and rejecting a historic opportunity to revitalize and reconnect the heart of Lafayette.  Let's be clear: No change is no option.”

Battle lines are now being drawn.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #152 on: June 22, 2016, 11:31:50 AM »

For the benefit of those whom are following this thread, I've went ahead and tweaked it a bit to correct some syntax errors and update information.


I have to say, my original opinion has now changed a bit on my preferred design for the Connector. My original endorsement was for the plan approved in the 2003 ROD or Concept 3C or 3D (the Second/Third/Johnston split interchange), because it would provide direct connections to the mainline.


But, the more I see of the Evangeline Corridor Initiative's proposed designs (especially the Partially Depressed and Covered Mainline proposal), the more I am liking, if not loving, it. If they can resolve the issue of connecting Mudd Avenue to the Evangeline Thruway/frontage road system, and if the hydraulics allow for depressing the freeway and allowing free passage over it, then we have a winner here. And if not, I can actually live with the Elevated Signature Bridge design as a fallback.


This video (from Acadiana Open Channel, via YouTube) of the Design Charette presentation of the ECI's concepts by Team Leader Steve Oubre is what turned me around to his proposals. (The introductory speaker is Lafayette Consolidated Government President Joel Robicheaux; he was sporting ULL colors because their men's baseball team was hosting the NCAA Super Regionals baseball tournament. Unfortunately, they got swept in the finals by Arizona.)






It's a long video, but if you want to understand how ECI got to their proposals, it's a must view.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2016, 11:41:10 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 #153 on: June 29, 2016, 10:14:01 AM »

The FHWA has now posted at the Federal Register the official Notice of Intent for the I-49 Lafayette Connector Supplemental EIS:


Quote
The FHWA, in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and the Lafayette Consolidated Government, will prepare a supplement to the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposal to upgrade route U.S. 90/U.S. 167 in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. The original EIS for the improvements (FHWA-LA-EIS-00-01-F) was approved on January 8, 2003. The proposed improvements to U.S. 90/U.S. 167 provide a six-lane fully controlled access freeway from just south of the Lafayette Regional Airport north to the southern terminus of Interstate 49 at the Interstate 10/Interstate 49 Interchange, generally along the existing U.S. 90/U.S. 167 corridor (Evangeline Thruway) with a portion on new alignment, in urban Lafayette, for a distance of approximately 5.5 miles. Improvements to the corridor are considered necessary to provide for existing and projected traffic demand and system linkage.


A Reevaluation of the 2003 Record of Decision (ROD) had recently been initiated and was anticipated to include follow-up to the 21 Commitments in the ROD. In consideration of input from the community, various refinements to the approved alternative are being evaluated. Preparation of a supplement to the EIS has been determined to be the appropriate documentation of the potential refinements.


Considerations include (1) constructing the approved alternative as described in the ROD and (2) incorporation of refinements to the approved alternative. Updated information on the effects of the approved alternative will be incorporated into and studied with any refinements.


Letters describing the proposed action and soliciting comments will be sent to appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies and will be posted on the project Web site for public comment. Public involvement activities have been on-going, including two public meetings recently held. Additional public involvement activities, including a public meeting, will be held in Lafayette between June 2016 and the conclusion of this study. In addition, a public hearing will be held. Public notice will be given of the time and place of the meeting and hearing. The draft supplemental EIS will be available for public and agency review and comment prior to the public hearing. No formal scoping meeting will be held.


To ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed action are addressed and all significant issues identified, comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties. Comments or questions concerning this proposed action and the EIS should be directed to the FHWA at the address provided above. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, Highway Research, Planning, and Construction. The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and activities apply to this program.)




Basically, they have set the NOI so that only alterations to the approved ROD will be considered, which squleches any attempt by opponents to bring any bypasses like Teche Ridge into the mix. Also, this officially allows the Evangeline Corridor Initiative refinements (including the Partially Depressed and Covered Mainline and Elevated Mainline with Signature Bridge alternative designs they proposed) to get a full vetting. The existing Concept Refinement and Context Sensitive Solutions processes will be integrated into the SEIS, along with public meetings and a official Pubic Hearing when the Draft SEIS is published.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 10:16:13 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 #154 on: August 05, 2016, 08:52:26 PM »

Some major new developments today on the I-49 Connector front.


First off, LADOTD on Wednesday held an Open House Public Meeting for the public, mostly to explain the newly refined Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) process and how it would affect the ongoing Conceptual Design study.


Most importantly, though, earlier today, the Corridor's Executive Committee approved the requests of the Community Workgroup and Technical Advisory committees to whittle down the original 19 design concepts modifications to 11 utilizing two basic concepts; both of which differ from the design that was approved in the 2003 Record of Decision.


The original concept would have been a discontinuous elevated freeway near the core downtown area, with two standalone interchanges at Johnston Street and a merged Second Street/Third Street couplet.



Original 2003 FEIS/ROD Approved Design


The concepts that were advanced, however, would eliminate both interchanges in exchange for using the existing Evangeline Thruway as the collector and distributor for traffic between the freeway and downtown, with connecting slip ramps north of Mudd Avenue and south of Taft Street/Fourteenth Street providing access to and from I-49.


Concept #4 would provide a continuous elevated freeway with a "signature bridge" concept elevated as high as 40 feet above ground level at its highest point. Under that proposal, the Evangeline Thruway could remain as a couplet, or the southbound roadway would be converted to a 4- to 6-lane urban boulevard to handle the transitory traffic between the freeway and surrounding neighborhoods (the northbound Thruway roadway would be downgraded to a two-way local street and returned to the original grid prior to the Thruway being built).



Concept 4B - Evangeline Thruway Remaining As One-Way Couplet



Concept 4F - Evangeline Parkway 


The other concept that advanced is Concept #6, where the freeway is not elevated, but partially depressed 10 feet below ground level and then covered like a tunnel, with earth berms sloped at 5 percent grade allowing cross streets to pass over the freeway. The original designs for Concept 6 would have required costly overpasses of the adjuncting BNSF/UP rail line, or, in one option, realigning and depressing the rail line at the same grade as the freeway.



Concept 6B - Partially Depressed/Capped I-49 w/ Cross-Street Overpasses of BNSF RR



Concept 6E - Partially Depressed/Capped I-49 w/ Realigned/Depressed BNSF RR


Those particular concepts probably won't make it, but the advancement of Concept #6 to the Tier II process will allow for consideration of a revision of 6E proposed by the Evangeline Thruway Redevelopment Team's Evangeline Corridor Initiative, which would remove the railroad realignment proposed in 6E, but shift the freeway mainline enough to the east in the downtown area so that the mainline is between the railroad and the southbound Thruway. With 680 feet of room, a 150' ROW for the freeway mainline, and 200' either side of 5% sloping, this would allow the cross streets to safely pass over the mainline with enough clearance to keep the existing at-grade railroad crossings.



Evangeline Corridor Initiative -- Proposed Partially Depressed/Covered I-49 (Thruway Flanking/Over Mainline)

That proposal has the Thruway shifted directly over and/or flanking the mainline freeway as an "urban avenue" and both streets of the former Thruway couplet reverted back to local two-way streets. There is an option for converting the S/B Thruway to a boulevard as well.


The ECI also has their own proposal for the Elevated Mainline/Signature Bridge option, generally based on Concept 4D.



Evangeline Corridor Initiative -- Proposed Elevated Mainline w/ Signature Bridge (Evangeline Thruway as Boulevard)


The new timetable has the Connector Study Team now providing more complete and detailed analyses, as well as technical studies, to the newly advanced concepts #4 and #6, with those options whittled down to a final select group by October, and a final selection by the end of this year.


The remaining CSS and neighborhood connectivity studies associated with the ECI study will now advance as planned, too.


Relevant articles: Lafayette Advertiser, Acadiana Advocate

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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #155 on: August 18, 2016, 06:58:56 PM »

I'm cross posting this from its original post so it can get an adequate response.



This was an article I found about I 49 do you guys think this will  end this debate.
August 14, 2016) The picture shows why building the I-49 Lafayette Connector below grade is generally a bad idea. The only thing that prevents the Evangeline Thruway from being submerged is the high level roadbed. Any section below grade is risky because mother nature can overcome anything engineered by mankind. At minimum, I-49 needs an overpass at Pinhook to seal off the subsurface segment from the river. If you don't like the idea of a continuous elevated viaduct, the problem could be solved with three simple interchanges and most of I-49 at ground level: one overpass at er Pinhook, run Johnston St over the railroad tracks and I-49 using an overpass a single point interchange above the I-49 connector, then finally run I-49 over a longer overpass from Jefferson to Mudd Ave, back to ground level, then overpasses at the next railroad track, and Willow St. However, my guess is the flood will be enough evidence in favor of an elevated viaduct and against the below grade road in the supplemental environmental study.


Ummm....no. Not quite so true.


Except for the section where the current Evangeline Thruway/US 90 dips to cross the Vermillion River, most of the Connector ROW is well above median sea level, and very much above the 100 year flood level of the Vermilion River. Not even in the case of the current flooding taking place did the Vermillion overtake the Thruway bridge, although, of course, Vermillionville and the adjacent parks were certainly flooded out. With the exception of the basin around the Vermillion River, most of Lafayette proper averages around 35 feet above median sea level. The 100-year flood level of the Vermillion is around 17.5 feet; the Evangeline Thruway bridge is about 20 feet. Even considering a 10 foot drop below ground level as what the Partially Depressed/Covered alternative proposes, that would still leave nearly 10-15' of leeway before even the 100-yr flood level would be reached. Gravity drainage flow combined with minor upgrades of the existing drainage system along the existing Thruway could handle much of the runoff; and even if the Vermillion was to reverse its flow as it sometimes does during excessive rainfall events, the wetland area to the south and east of Lafayette serves as a safety valve for runoff.


In addition, since the proposal calls for a partially submerged tunneled mainline rather than an open trench, with berns over the mainline to carry cross streets over the freeway, runoff from heavy rains would not flow into the tunnel structure; but would rather either be absorbed by the greenspace or run into the existing drainage system.


Some of the proposed design modifications would include raising the frontage road and mainline structures at the Vermillion River crossing, both to further connectivity of the park space adjacent to the river and to further protection from backflow flooding into the mainline structure.


It should also be noted that the depressed structure would transition into an elevated structure north of Mudd Avenue towards Willow Street. Detention ponds can be built around the Willow Street interchange to handle excessive runoff there.



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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #156 on: August 18, 2016, 07:10:18 PM »

One of the other advantages of the Partially Depressed/Covered option is that the Evangeline Thruway can be shifted to be placed directly above or immediately flanking the freeway mainline, with the current roadways converted back to local streets serving the local neighborhood grid. This would also help promote both effective evacuation and escape in the event of a flood event. Of course, the Elevated option would serve that purpose well, but with the Thruway at its current level or converted to a boulevard.
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Anthony_JK

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #157 on: August 23, 2016, 07:58:32 PM »

I found the image that Gordon was referencing, but forgot to link. It is originally from a collage of aerial photos of the flooding in Lafayette posted by the Lafayette Advertiser; that photo was then posted to the "Future I-49" Facebook page.





At that moment, the Vermilion River was at its highest peak of 18.1 feet (measured a bit upstream at the gauge at Surrey Street); roughly 3 feet above the original "100 year flood" benchmark of 15.7 feet. As you can see, much of Beaver Park and Vermilionville was inudated by the overflow of the Vermilion. However, because the Evangeline Thruway/US 90 bridge and the University Avenue and Surrey Street roadways were set at a higher level (the bridge was placed at 20 feet above mean surface level, nearly 5 feet above the previous 100 yr. flood benchmark, they all remained high and dry above the madness. (You can see the traffic still moving along the Thruway and cross streets.)


The relevance to the proposed Connector freeway and Gordon's comments that this rules out the Partially Depressed/Covered option desired by many? Well, that option applies mostly to the area north of this area, between roughly Pinhook Road and Mudd Avenue, where the ground level height would be a bit higher than where the Thruway/proposed Connector crosses the Vermilion. The Thruway ground level actually rises drastically to the north to a general height of 35 feet above median ground level near Pinhook Road. The proposed PD/C option would only lower the freeway 10 feet below ground level in the central area; allowing for a 10-15 foot clearance above ground level where berms would allow for cross traffic to pass over the tunneled/partially submerged freeway. Also, at the area where the Connector freeway would use the existing mainline Thruway to cross the Vermilion River, adjacent frontage roads would be built to take over the task of local access and connections to University/Surrey and accessing Beaver Park. A profile view of the proposed Connector freeway at that location under the original approved 2003 Final EIS/ROD is here (original located at the Project Library "Historical Documents" section at the official LADOTD Lafayette Connector website):









The proposed mainline overpass over/interchange with University/Surrey is contingent on how LADOTD/FHWA and the FAA resolve the issue of protecting the flight path of Runway 11-29 at Lafayette Regional Airport, which cuts right through the Evangeline Thruway/Connector freeway ROW. Original plans of displacing the flight path by extending Runway 11-29 at its opposite end into the Cypress Swamp area are now under review, and alterations to the University/Surrey interchange to avoid displacement are now being considered under the Supplemental EIS process.


I can agree with Gordon's idea that the Elevated Option would probably be more suitable for negotiating through an extreme flooding event, and that probably LADOTD and FHWA are already slanted toward that option as the most feasible; and this recent disaster will probably tip them in that direction anyway, since that was the very reason they rejected depressed freeway options in the past.  However, I don't think that the Partially Depressed/Covered option should be totally eliminated from consideration just because of this event, because there is still a lot of advantages and benefits from depressing the freeway in the downtown core while still considering raising it a bit in the Beaver Park/Vermilionville area to protect against the next "1000 year flood" event. But, we shall see as the studies move on.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 08:14:42 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 #158 on: August 23, 2016, 08:09:21 PM »


Incidentally....if you want a fun thing to do during your idle time...


I've been doing a bit of trolling on this webpage created by an opponent of the Connector who is pushing some pretty wack arguments against the freeway through Lafayette and pushing for a bypass (mostly the east Teche Ridge bypass, but there is also an argument for the Lafayette Regional eXpressway bypass around the western and southern perimeter of Lafayette). I've thus far managed to attach comments to nearly all of the posts over there; if you want to, feel free to go there and read both the arguments and my responses to them.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #159 on: October 17, 2016, 08:09:36 AM »

Just wanted to let you good folks here know that I have created my own blog in order to defend the Connector against the inflamed rhetoric of some of its detractors. It's a bit spartan, but it does the job well enough for me.

http://backi49lafayetteconnector.blogspot.com

I just finished a post debunking the supposed impacts of the Connector freeway on Lafayette Regional Airport.

http://backi49lafayetteconnector.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-i-49-lafayette-connector-and.html

Much more, of course, is forthcoming.



UPDATE: That site now also exists as a standalone WordPress site as well:


http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/

« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 01:08:21 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 #161 on: November 07, 2016, 10:53:59 AM »

Just finished a MONSTER post over at my new pro-Connector site on the latest update on the Tier II selection process for the Conceptual Study and Supplemental EIS now ongoing.

http://backi49lafayetteconnector.blogspot.com/2016/11/i-49-lafayette-connector-update-tier-2.html

The TL; DR version for you all:

1) It appears that the "Cut-and-Cover" option for burying the Connector freeway through near downtown Lafayette won't happen; the Tier 2 results found it to be too expensive, with too many displacements and serious issues with operating and maintaining the tunnel, especially during emergency incidents and hurricane evacuation. Also, the tunnel would be inaccessible for Haz-Mat permitted vehicles. The total cost for the 1.5 mile section including the tunnel was estimated to be near $818 million; as compared to $565 million for the Partially Depressed Open Trench option.

2) All signs are now pointing to the Elevated option with the Evangeline Thruway converted to an urban boulevard becoming the favored alternative. It actually scored less expensive and less disruptive than even the alternative approved in the 2003 Record of Decision ($426 million for the 1.5 mile downtown core section as compared to $577 million for the original alternative).

3) LADOTD is now in the process of developing "hybrid" alternative proposals for the entire 5.5 mile length of the Connector freeway; including the possibility of incorporating some ideas put forth by the Evangeline Corridor Initiative. Those proposals are scheduled to be announced by mid-December at a public meeting.

Some relevant articles (via the Lafayette Advertiser):

http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/local/2016/11/03/some--interstate-49-design-options-eliminated/93181276/ (already mentioned)

http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2016/10/27/cost-15-mile--49-core-355-668-million/92832942/ (with cost estimates of all the remaining options)


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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #162 on: November 09, 2016, 09:40:36 AM »

So the Geaux South (I-49 South) Program web page (http://www.geauxsouth49.com/) is no longer online? Is LADOTD shifting project documents elsewhere, or did they simply forget to renew the domain with GoDaddy?

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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #163 on: November 09, 2016, 09:55:04 PM »

That site has been offline since this spring. More than likely, a victim of the transition from Bobby Jindal to John Bel Edwards. (Or, from Sheryl LeBas to Shawn Wilson as DOTD Secretary.)
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #164 on: December 13, 2016, 03:07:29 PM »

An update, if you will.


LADOTD had their second Open House Public Meeting last November 30th, where they updated the public on the current status of the Conceptual Design, CSS, and Supplemental EIS studies now ongoing.


They have now reduced the options for the Connector freeway down to 4 conceptual design alternatives in the core area near downtown; two utilizing a continuous elevated freeway, one with a partially depressed freeway with an open trench, and one with a partially depressed and covered (aka "cut-and-cover") freeway.


I have created a post over at my I-49 Connector blog detailing the four alternatives, but for here I will simply illustrate them:


Original Base Case: 2003 Final EIS/ROD Approved Alternative





This was the alternative that was originally approved in 2003; it is included in this study only as an control for comparison purposes.




1) Concept 4-1 -- Elevated Freeway with Evangeline Thruway Couplet





In this concept, I-49 would be fully elevated throughout the downtown area, with ramp connections to the Evangeline Thruway allowing for indirect access to all the major cross streets serving downtown. Notice how the Evangeline Thruway is realigned near the Sterling Grove Historical District to move both the freeway and the northbound Thruway frontage road away from St. Genevieve Catholic Church and Sterling Grove. Also, Simcoe Street directly flanking the church is severed and diverted through the Second/Third couplet and a combination of Chestnut Street and Dudley Avenue. Mudd Avenue is allowed full connection with the Thruway frontage road system to/from the west, but is severed from there to the east, with the old northbound Thruway from Simcoe Street to Bellot Drive redesigned as a two-way local street.




2) Concept 4-2 -- Elevated Freeway with Evangeline Thruway as "Urban Boulevard"





This is essentially Concept 4-1 but with the southbound Evangeline Thruway converted into a 4- to 6- lane "urban boulevard" for development purposes. The existing northbound Thruway would be converted into a two-way local street.




3) Concept 6-1 -- Partially Depressed Open Trench





Under this concept, the Connector freeway would be depressed 10 feet below surface level from north of Mudd Avenue to Pinhook Road, with major cross streets bridged at least 10 to 15 feet over the freeway. Due to the proximity of the BNSF rail line, Johnston Street would have to be elevated over both the freeway and the railroad, causing it to require elevated structures extending westward as far as Vermillion Street. This would cause penetration of the Freetown-Port Rico neighborhood, which was recently designated an Historical District. Notice also how the southbound frontage road has to be altered to cross over the freeway, and how Taft Street has to be realigned to connect with Thirteenth Street rather than its current connection with Fourteenth Street. The remaining cross streets downtown (Second, Third, Jefferson, and Sixth) do get to retain their at-grade crossings with the railroad, but with very steep gradients between the freeway overpasses and the rail crossings. Also, note that due to the need to cross over the freeway, Mudd Avenue is completely severed across the freeway, unlike the Elevated options.




4) Concept 6-2 -- Partially Depressed Cut-and-Cover






This is similar to Concept 6-1, but with the addition of an embankment completely covering the depressed mainline, allowing cross streets and potential business development over or immediately flanking the freeway. The cover would take in the area from Second Street to Taft Street, and the embankment would take the entire ROW of the existing Evangeline Thruway, requiring the maximum of displacements. There would also be issues involving operation and maintenance costs of the tunnel, as well as concerns about permitted Hazardous Materials loads not being able to use the tunnel.


DOTD also published a matrix listing both preliminary findings of ROW and displacements required and the initial costs for the downtown core area.










As you can plainly see, the Cut-and-Cover option would be prohibitively expensive, costing up to double the costs of the elevated options. The Open Trench option is in between.


The plans for the studies are to construct full hybrid end-to-end conceptual alternatives for presentation to the public and the CSS committees next month (January 2017); followed by more detailed Tier III analysis and major agency feedback; and then 3 finalist concept alternatives selected later in the spring of 2017 to be vetted through the Draft Supplemental EIS document and CSS Design Study. After that, a Public Hearing will be held, and the Lafayette Consolidated Government will select a final alternative for implementation of the CSS design.


Meanwhile, opponents of the Connector are already rearming themselves for a new battle; this letter from Connector opponent Dennis Sullivan posted during the November 30th Public Meeting by opponent Roger Peak over at the Sierra Club's anti-Connector "Y-49" Facebook page encapsulates all the arguments opponents of the freeway are offering.





I'm already preparing a rebuttal to Mr. Sullivan's nonsense, which will be posted to the Connector blog soon.


In the meantime, I've posted some of the Connector Open House Public Meeting documents (accessible via Scirbd) over at the blog. Please feel free to go there and view them; or view the originals at the Lafayette Connector website.


http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/2016/12/10/nov2016update-openhousemeetingdocs-ecifinalcharrettereport/



« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 09:11:11 PM by Anthony_JK »
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #165 on: December 14, 2016, 02:09:09 PM »

Did he really write that whole letter in Comic Sans?  :pan:
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #166 on: December 15, 2016, 02:16:16 AM »

Did he really write that whole letter in Comic Sans?  :pan:

Maybe Wingdings wasn't available at the time??

This letter is exactly the type of nonsense that anti-freeway opponents are prone to say, and it's proven BS.

"Make the Thruway for everyone, not just for cars??" Really? Does he know that over 60,000 vehicles use the Thruway today, and that will rise to nearly 90K by 2034?? Since only around 10 percent of that traffic uses the Thruway to get through (rather than travel to and from) Lafayette, that means that even if Teche Ridge Bypass was built, you'd still have nearly 70K to 80K VPD on the Thruway. Try putting sidewalks and bike lanes on that, then mix in traffic lights.

The mentality that transportation should be reduced to the lowest common denominator for small neighborhoods at the expense of everyone else needs to be challenged and rebutted. Lafayette is NOT Breaux Bridge or Opelousas or Port Barre. It needs basic essential thouroghfares for people to travel on.


UPDATE: My refutation of the Y-49 folks is now online:


http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/2016/12/15/refuting-y49-why-an-i49-loop-isnt-all-that/

« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 07:47:36 AM by Anthony_JK »
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #167 on: December 15, 2016, 10:50:23 AM »

That clown contradicts his "Interstates need to go around the city" stance with the example he uses: Denver's modification of I-70 on the East side of the city.

CDOT is not turning I-70 into some stop-and-go urbanized boulevard. They're not going to push I-70 around the perimeter of Denver either. They're going to widen the existing Interstate and add some express lanes to it. But they are going to put I-70 into a deep trench for several blocks and cap a few blocks of it with new park land and green space. The project will cost over $1.2 billion.

Denver's I-70 East project is mired in its own controversies. Lots of anti-freeway people are trying to block the project, wanting that tax money spent on bike paths and what not (as if Denver doesn't already have lots of bike paths, bus lines, etc.). Lately there is a civil rights investigation into the project because it affects a neighborhood that is 84% Latino.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #168 on: December 15, 2016, 12:56:02 PM »

That clown contradicts his "Interstates need to go around the city" stance with the example he uses: Denver's modification of I-70 on the East side of the city.

CDOT is not turning I-70 into some stop-and-go urbanized boulevard. They're not going to push I-70 around the perimeter of Denver either. They're going to widen the existing Interstate and add some express lanes to it. But they are going to put I-70 into a deep trench for several blocks and cap a few blocks of it with new park land and green space. The project will cost over $1.2 billion.

Denver's I-70 East project is mired in its own controversies. Lots of anti-freeway people are trying to block the project, wanting that tax money spent on bike paths and what not (as if Denver doesn't already have lots of bike paths, bus lines, etc.). Lately there is a civil rights investigation into the project because it affects a neighborhood that is 84% Latino.

To be fair to Mr. Sullivan, the YouTube video he links to in his otherwise idiotic letter does describe an option -- reroute I-70 over I-270 and convert existing I-70 to a boulevard -- that was considered but rejected in favor of the tunnel now being proposed in Denver. He's using that as a description of what the Evangeline Thruway could be like if I-49 was diverted through the Teche Ridge Bypass east through St. Martin Parish or west along the Lafayette Regional Expressway loop. The problem with that is that neither bypass alternative will move enough traffic from the Thruway/US 90 corridor such that an "urban boulevard" combination can feasibly work. You'd still have the Thruway choked with nearly 70-80K ADT, which is not favorable for an urban boulevard with sidewalks and bike lanes. Ironically enough, the Connector freeway would remove enough traffic from the Thruway to allow it to be converted into such an urban boulevard....and that will probably become the finally approved version.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 12:58:52 PM by Anthony_JK »
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #169 on: January 11, 2017, 03:17:44 AM »

Just a small update for y'allz....


Things are heating up once again at the Connector Tier II hearings: Apparently new Connector Project Director Tim Nickel got a bit tired of having to answer questions from Lafayette locals about why some of their design recommendations were rejected out of hand, because he abruptly dismissed their December Community Work Group meeting, leaving some members in shock. This raised once again the feelings of some locals that the consultants paid by LADOTD were forcing a bare bones Elevated option on the city without any consideration for them.


This article from the Lafayette Advertiser detailed all the hijinks:


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2016/12/16/questions-left-unanswered-after-heated--49-committee-meeting/95480588/


This other article from the Advertiser details the concerns of the local Evangeline Thruway Redevelopment Team over the latest Connector design proposals:


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/local/2016/12/14/thruway-redevelopment-team-concerned--49-plans/95404942/


This also led the Advertiser to post this editorial basically calling out LADOTD to get its act together before everything is destroyed:


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/opinion/editorial/2016/12/21/editorial-failure-communicate/95667548/


To which, I've added my own opinion at my Connector blog:


http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/2016/12/16/how-ladotd-arrogance-and-ramrodding-the-elevated-option-could-kill-the-connector-freeway-project/


Which so gripped DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson that he was moved to post this rebuttal to the official LADOTD Lafayette Connector website and to the Advertiser:


http://lafayetteconnector.com/49-far-standard-interstate/
http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/opinion/2017/01/05/wilson--49-far-more-than-standard-interstate/96192384/


To which, I have just posted my own open letter in response:


http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/2017/01/11/open-letter-response-to-dotd-secretary-wilson/


Also at my blog: my own personal recommendations for improving the Connector freeway; most of which involve tweaks to the ECI proposals, and a radical suggestion of elevating the BNSF railroad through downtown:


http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/2017/01/06/could-the-connector-be-improved-a-few-suggestions/




Read at your convenience...but I hope you read nevertheless.





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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #170 on: March 14, 2017, 06:42:32 AM »

Your monthly Connector update, for what it's worth.


It was quiet for a while, but this weekend things blew up big time when the LADOTD and the Connector planning team held a surprise meeting of their Executive Committee supervising the current Conceptual Engineering Study & Supplemental EIS work. Based on that meeting last Friday, they announced a major shake up in the Connector design process,with huge ramifications.


This article in the Lafayette Advertiser details all of the fireworks:


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/local/2017/03/10/elevated-depressed--49-decision-coming-soon/99004102/


The original process would have had at least two "hybrid" proposed designs for the Connector freeway project move on to the Tier III evaluation process, with a decision on a final design to be further vetted through the Supplemental EIS reached by mid-spring. The idea would have been that one design would feature the "Elevated" option, and the other a "Semi-Depressed" option where the freeway would be sunk 10 feet through the heart of Lafayette next to downtown.


In Friday's meeting, though, it was announced by the Executive Committee through LADOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson that the process would now be accelerated so that only one design would be selected by the end of March and then vetted through the Tier III and SEIS process. Considering the remarks and conclusions that LADOTD and the Connector consulting team had previously announced publicly, this all but clinches that the Elevated Option will be selected and the Semi-Depressed option dismissed as to expensive and disruptive.


It was also announced that there would no longer be a public meeting in March to present the Tier III alternatives, but that public input and consultation with the Lafayette Consolidated Government would be put on hold until the final design alternative was selected, after the Tier III vetting and before the draft SEIS was published. An official Public Hearing is mandated by federal law after the SEIS is officially published.


Apparently, Wilson and the LADOTD is concerned that any further delay in considering what they feel as an inferior Semi-Depressed option would threaten funding of the Connector freeway down the road, and that the already deferred by a year process needs to be concluded.


On the other side, there are some folks at Lafayette Consolidated Government who are getting a bit concerned and steamed up that they seem to be getting rolled by the process. The Evangeline Thruway Redevelopment Team (ETRT), who was empowered by the LCG to develop plans for reconnecting and improving the neighborhoods affected by the Connector freeway, had recently emailed to the Connector design team a list of issues they had concerning the process and the vetting of the Semi-Depressed option. LADOTD posted a detailed response to the ETRT concerns over at their Connector website; but apparently that didn't resolve ETRT's issues enough. Today, they made their concerns public through this Advertiser article:


http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2017/03/13/thruway-team--49-connector-questions-unanswered/99124754/

I've posted the LADOTD response via my Scribd account:

https://www.scribd.com/document/341838532/LADOTD-LCP-Response-To-ETRT-Concerns-Re-I-49-Connector-Project

The main problem is that there is a chance that LADOTD will claim lack of funding to push aside funding particular amenities (bikepaths, pedestrian paths, a "signature bridge" along the corridor near downtown, a gateway plaza entry from the north) wanted by LCG to relieve and mitigate the impact of the Connector footprint. There is also the issue of the Connector crossing the former Southern Pacific Railroad classification yard, a potential "brownfield" which had been found to contain hazardous waste that could potentially impact the Chicot Aquifer, which provides Lafayette's drinking water supply.


And that doesn't even include the continued opposition of folks like the Greater Lafayette Sierra Club whom are still pushing the Teche Ridge eastern bypass through St. Martin Parish (or the western toll Lafayette Regional Expressway), along with conversion of the current Evangeline Thruway to a surface boulevard, as their preferred option for I-49.


In any rate, things are about to explode here, especially when the hybrid plans are released later this month. As always, I'll keep you informed here of the developments.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 06:49:22 AM by Anthony_JK »
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #171 on: March 31, 2017, 10:24:41 PM »

And now, we are down to one alternative concept for the Connector freeway.

LADOTD today officially eliminated the Partially Depressed/Covered Series 6 options from future consideration for the final phases of design analysis; leaving only the Elevated Series 4 options for advancement.

Details of the Executive Committee meeting today are here (via the Lafayette Advertiser):

Quote
Despite unanswered questions from the community, the Interstate 49 Lafayette Connector executive committee decided Friday to move ahead with only one design option.

The 1.5-mile section of I-49 between roughly Pinhook Road and the railroad tracks, abutting the city's downtown and two historic neighborhoods, will be elevated.

Carlee Alm-Labar, Lafayette Consolidated Governrment's development director, was the only hold-out for continuing to study both the elevated and a semi-depressed, semi-covered option.

She was overridden by her boss, Mayor-President Joel Robideax, and others on the executive committee, including Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and Monique Boulet, CEO of the Acadiana Planning Commission.

Robideaux, who asked few questions during Friday's meeting, said after considering how many more properties would be displaced by the semi-depressed version and hearing concerns from emergency personnel, he thinks the elevated version, called series 4, was the best option.

He, Alm-Labar and City-Parish Councilman Bruce Conque said the goal now is to work together with state highway officials and consultants to design the best elevated interstate possible.

"We'e got an opportunity in front of us to get this project done," Robideaux said. "I'm convinced that we're going to be partners in it, work through whatever financial constraints exist and come out with something that we can all be proud of."

http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2017/03/31/one-i-49-connector-plan-selected/99828402/

I'm guessing that this will not go too well with many people, and that the lawsuits are already being planned....not only from advocates of the Teche Ridge bypass, but also from those hoping for a depressed freeway design to mitigate the impacts of the elevated freeway.

My own personal take, from my Connector blog:

http://redgarterclub.com/RGClubNetwork/buildi49lafayetteconnector/2017/03/31/breaking-ladotd-pushes-elevated-option-for-further-study/

Things are about to get pretty turbulent, people.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #172 on: April 01, 2017, 09:42:05 AM »

I have a bad feeling about this.

Start looking at who owns the land around the Teche Ridge corridor and how they show up in the opposition movement.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #173 on: April 02, 2017, 09:45:19 AM »

I have a bad feeling about this.

Start looking at who owns the land around the Teche Ridge corridor and how they show up in the opposition movement.

Considering how Teche Ridge runs in the tight slot between the Bayou Teche basin and Cypress Swamp/Lake Martin, there really isn't a lot of land to develop, unless they plan on drying up the northeastern portion of Cypress Swamp. Plus, it probably wouldn't matter, because there's no way that any Teche Ridge Bypass route will attract enough traffic from the US 90/Evangeline Thruway corridor to induce any development to begin with. At best, the route would probably attract 20K to 25K ADT, which wouldn't even be enough for a two-lane arterial, let alone a 4 lane freeway.
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Re: I-49 South/I-49 Lafayette Connector (The Ongoing Process To Progress)
« Reply #174 on: April 02, 2017, 02:42:17 PM »

What?! Why would they eliminate the sunken freeway option? It's like they want this freeway to get killed. Bad, bad idea...  :thumbdown:

 


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