I-49 plan has fans, foes

March 28, 2007
Reported by Associated Press

A public hearing on the proposed route of Interstate 49 through Saint Charles, Lafourche and Jefferson parishes brought out skeptics and supporters of the preferred path of the interstate.

Ray Honor, whose extended family in Boutte would be relocated to make way for the five billion dollar project, wants the whole idea to go away.

Thelezia Spahr, whose family owns a well-known catfish restaurant near Bayou Des Allemands in Lafourche Parish, said she likes the proposed route, in no small part because an exit from the elevated expressway would drop down practically on the restaurant's doorstep.

Hearings are being held to solicit comments on the draft environmental impact statement on the project.  Once the statement is complete, possibly by Thanksgiving, state officials can begin seeking money for the project.

If Congress approves, the federal government would pay 80 percent of the total, with the state making up the balance.

The proposed alignment would travel east from Louisiana Highway 308 in Raceland, across the Dufrene Ponds in Lafourche Parish, and enter Saint Charles Parish south of Des Allemands. It would travel south of developed areas in Paradis before sweeping north of the existing U-S Highway 90 and into a consolidated interchange with I-310. The existing I-310/Louisiana 31-27 interchange would be eliminated.

The project is part of a proposed 140-mile extension of I-49 from Lafayette to Jefferson Parish. The highway is designed to seamlessly link southeast Louisiana to central Canada and provide a better hurricane evacuation route.