Ten public meetings are set over the next two weeks for residents to chime in on an expanded list of design alternatives for Interstate 49 through Lafayette and ways to ensure the road, if ever built, blends with the surrounding neighborhoods.
The state Department of Transportation and Development is hosting five community meetings beginning Tuesday for residents to learn about and comment on 13 design ideas for the 5.5-mile stretch of I-49 through Lafayette — the initial plan for the so-called “Lafayette Connector” and 12 possible tweaks that have emerged since planning for the road resumed last year.
The designs are a mix of minor and major changes, from reconsidering the elevation of different sections of the road to removing one or more interchanges.
The most recent proposal is to partially depress a large portion of the Connector, bringing the interstate down about 10 feet below surface level and bridging some local roads in the downtown area over the interstate.
DOTD has made no decision on which concepts to pursue but is expected to soon begin paring down the list of ideas.
Some members of an I-49 citizens committee have suggested an additional option: Not building an interstate at all but instead converting Evangeline Thruway into a multi-lane boulevard designed for heavy traffic.
The proposal aims to address concerns about the possible negative impacts of building a six-lane elevated interstate through the city.
At a meeting this week, DOTD officials seemed reluctant to explore the boulevard idea, saying it would not meet the federal requirements for interstate funding.
“With this project, that is not going to happen,” said DOTD project manager Toby Picard. “That would be ending this project and starting a whole new project.”
City-parish government is hosting a second set of five public workshops over the next two weeks, focusing not on the road itself but on everything around it, exploring opportunities for bike paths, walkways, parks, buffers and economic development.
Each city-parish workshop is catered toward a particular area along the interstate corridor.
The first meeting, for the McComb-Veazey area, is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on 12th Street.
The first DOTD community meeting is set for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown.
For more information on the city-parish workshops for areas along the interstate, visit www.evangelinecorridor.com.
Information on the upcoming DOTD meetings on the design of the interstate can be found at www.lafayetteconnector.com.