Selection of I-49 South Coalition board delayed
MORGAN CITY, La. -- The selection of a board of directors to serve on the I-49 South Coalition has been pushed back to an undetermined date, likely in a couple of months after the closing of the legislative session in Baton Rouge, according to Michael Tamporello, state Sen. Bret Allain’s legislative assistant and designated point man for the coalition.
A meeting of coalition members had been expected in mid-April or early May to select a board.
“Right now, (the legislative) session has obviously moved to the front burner for our office,” said Tamporello in a prepared news release. “This will give us additional time to talk with as many businesses as possible about membership.”
Tamporello is not releasing figures on how many people have signed to join the I-49 South Coalition, but he said that “membership is coming very well. … A lot of folks are showing interest.”
Tamporello said that he continues to travel throughout the corridor and has met with many who are interested in the project.
“We have many commitments from all parts of the corridor,” said Tamporello.
The Interstate 49 South Feasibility and Funding Task Force, of which Allain is a member, met last month. Tamporello commended the chairman of the Task Force, Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel, for Durel’s stated determination to make sure the Task Force becomes more active.
“(Durel) indicated that as chairman, he plans on reinvigorating the conversation of I-49 South as well,” said Tamporello.
The Department of Transportation and Development will soon get proposals from engineers on how to design the interstate from Lafayette to New Orleans in phases.
Tamporello was asked about concerns that have been mentioned regarding how an elevated highway would affect some communities economically.
“DOTD has pledged that they will come to us and talk about the proposals,” said Tamporello. “They are listening to public input.”
Tamporello pointed to a recent Daily Review article which points out that St. Mary Parish’s five motor vehicle fatalities leads the eight-parish region of State Police Troop I this year.
“We all know that part of the reason (for these high fatality numbers) is that we have U.S. 90 and not I-49,” said Tamporello.
With the final pieces of I-49 in north Louisiana fully funded and on its way to completion, Tamporello pointed to the often stated goal for the interstate’s construction — connecting New Orleans with an interstate system to Canada.
It is time to start work on finishing this southern section, Tamporello said. “We are not going to settle for anything less.”