City-parish government is reaching out to residents and business owners along the Evangeline Thruway for help in establishing priorities for revitalization projects being considered from Interstate 10 to south of Surrey Street.

About 40 projects emerged from meetings last year that brought together designers and residents to visualize redevelopment opportunities.

Some of the ideas are closely linked to the planned Interstate 49 Connector, which would roughly follow the path of Evangeline Thruway though Lafayette.  Others could move forward regardless of the timeline for the Connector, a project still in the design phase and still in search of funding.

"The intention is to complement the design of the Connector, but some of these projects should be able to happen before the Connector," said Lafayette City-Parish Director of Planning, Zoning and Development Carlee Alm-LaBar.

The revitalization effort, called the Evangeline Corridor Initiative, offers a mix of big and small projects local planners hope could be funded with a combination of local, state and federal dollars, along with private investments possibly spurred with incentives. 

The general idea is to identify key projects that encourage more widespread redevelopment.

"The whole purpose of the work is catalyzing growth within the neighborhoods," Alm-LaBar said.

The list of projects under consideration includes new neighborhood parks, a makeover for the existing Heymann Park, a pedestrian bridge over the Vermilion River to connect Vermilionville and Heymann Park, a cultural museum at Pontiac Point and a playground at the downtown public library.

The draft plan also calls for landscaping, sidewalks, lighting and other streetscape improvements throughout the Evangeline Corridor. It targets specific sites for intensive redevelopment:  the old federal courthouse complex downtown, the NorthGate Mall site near I-10, city-parish government's Clifton Chenier Complex on Willow Street and the nearby Super 1 Foods site.

It's an ambitious redevelopment plan, and city-parish planners are now asking the public to help prioritize the projects, either by hosting a "meeting in a box" with provided materials or attending one of the yet-to-be-scheduled public meetings organized by city planners.

Alm-LaBar said public input will continue through May 22.

An open house is planned for June 8 to discuss the results and to offer another chance for public input for anyone unable to participate in a meeting before May 22.

The Evangeline Corridor planning work is moving forward after a committee of state and local officials overseeing the design of the Connector through Lafayette decided last month to pursue an elevated design over an alternative plan to cut a path for the road below ground level.

The latter option was favored by a contingent of residents who fear an elevated interstate could further divide the city and stifle redevelopment in and around downtown.

The design team that helped craft the Evangeline Corridor revitalization projects had suggested that the state Department of Transportation and Development give serious consideration to building the interstate below ground level.

Alm-LaBar said the proposed revitalization projects are not directly tied to a particular interstate design.

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