Sep 16, 2013 11:35 PM by Steven Albritton
The extension of I-49 toward Morgan City has been nothing more than a rumor for years. Monday, lawmakers were here in Lafayette hoping to educate on just how important this project will be. It's a project that needs public support and funding from both the state and federal governments. They say they need the publics help to make this happen.
"If we don't support a coalition, if we don't support he I-49 task force and let your elected officials know how important this is to you, It'll never get done," State Senator Bret Allain said
At a meeting of the Acadiana Press Club, lawmakers also voiced their opinion on how this extension is vital for all of south Louisiana.
"As we understand, there will be many more rigs in the near future being put to work for deep water exploration. Everyone wants to be connected to that," Allain said.
He went on to say, not only is there economic advantages to the highways construction, but also huge safety implications. He pointed out a dangerous stretch of Highway 90 known as, "The Gauntlet," between Calumet and Morgan City.
"The fatality rate along that short 11 mile stretch is the highest in the corridor per mile. No doubt about it," Allain said.
Congressman Charles Boustany agrees. The I-49 extension would be vital for the oil and gas industries, but it all starts with making sure the money to complete the project is available. He says just the Lafayette Connector alone will cost $1.3 billion dollars.
"It's a top priority. From an evacuation standpoint for hurricanes, as a key energy corridor and also for safety because there are far too many accidents and fatalities that occur. So, for all those reasons, it's got to be a top priority.
Boustany says he has already started working with lawmakers towards getting the project funded in the next transportation bill. If you would like to learn more about this project and voice your support you can visit: www.drive49south.com