Some Lafayette area residents will have the chance to speak out on I-49 connector

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The Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation hosted an I-49 Lafayette Connector Project forum on Wednesday.

Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD) Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson was a panel member. Dr. Wilson says early in the I-49 Lafayette Connector Project there were 21 community-related promises made with the federal government.

Wilson says DOTD intends to meet those commitments and work to understand how to mitigate ones that are outdated.

“From cultural elements, environmental issues, to traffic resources are just a number of things we included as we design this and go through this community process.

We have to honor those 21 commitments and/or work with the federal government to understand how to mitigate them; because conditions might have changed on the ground in terms of traffic and neighborhoods,” says Wilson.

Jan Swift, Executive Director of the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation explains a great portion of the connector project will travel through LCG Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux’s district.

“Those neighborhoods that are in place today need to have some say and be reassured that nothing will happen or will be of detriment to their current existence,” says panel guest Councilman Boudreaux.

Lafayette Parish Planning and Zoning Director, Carlee Alm-LaBar explains how a $900,000 TIGER Grant will help LCG work with communities.

“We believe the interstate coming through gives us an opportunity to give character and improve the neighborhood. We want to take advantage of that,” adds Alm-Labar.

Lafayette Utilities Director Terry Huval brought introduced an engineer to address the topic of the Chico Aquifer – a source of water for Lafayette. Huval speaks about concerns with the aquifer being contaminated during construction.

“The most important thing as LUS we’re not going to let anything happen to the aquifer that’s going to affect the safety of the citizens of Lafayette or anyone else,” explains Huval.

Dr. Wilson says DOTD has implemented an additional phase of five to six months to gather community input and move forward with the design phase of the I-49 Lafayette Connector Project.

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