Friday, May 27, 2016

Hurricane Evacuation via Urban Interstate

Rita evacuees from Houston Texas, September 21, 2005
Photo: Wikipedia - Hurricane Evacuation

Hurricane evacuation routes must not only have capacity to carry evacuation traffic, but must also be resilient in the face of challenges of heavy rain and strong gusting winds, motorists running out of gas as electric outages prevent refills, 18 wheeler truck accidents along with auto accidents, and frightened frustrated drivers. How will the planned I-49 Connector perform under these conditions? How does this performance compare to alternatives?

First, how resilient is the Connector design? Resilience is the proposed design? Answer - not at all. A single truck or motorist running out of fuel or having an accident on the elevated bridge could stall or stop traffic for hours as we have seen all too often on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. The two elevated roadways planned for the Connector will have no emergency cross overs, and will be susceptible to closure for trucks or even all traffic under high wind conditions. Motorists may well find themselves stranded on the bridge as a hurricane approaches. Moreover, resilience is lost in the design by the planned downgrading of traffic capacity on the Evangeline Thruway. Finally, city residents will find evacuation even more problematic under the Connector design as local traffic is concentrated at entrance ramps.

How does this compare to alternative? Bothe the eastern Teche Ridge route, and the Lafayette Regional Xpressway (LRX) to the west offer added resilience to the highway system under evacuation conditions. Both roadways would be primarily at-grade. This makes them less susceptible to wind hazards, and allows more rapid reopening following accidents or blockages. These options would add capacity for evacuation, while leaving existing city roadways available for city and parish residents to also evacuate when necessary.

Residents of Acadiana are all to familiar with the reliability of long bridges. The I-10 Atchafalaya Basin Bridge all too often is stalled by accidents. A colleague of mine who often commuted across this structure always carried her fishing pole for just such occurrences. Let's not depend on a long bridge for evacuation of our families and neighbors.

Crash closes I-10 for 15 hours along basin bridge.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. No. Not even close. Again.

    You are telling me that a 4-lane bypass through St. Martin Parish that doesn't even touch major populous areas of south Lafayette Parish (like Youngsville and Broussard) would do a better job of hurricane evacuation than a 6-lane freeway buttressed by a 4- to 6-lane frontage road system that directly connects those areas to I-10 and I-49 in the most direct means possible? Especially considering that the Connector would allow for additional contraflow (all six traffic lanes flowing in the same direction) while the existing Thruway/frontage road system serves local traffic?

    Even the notion of stalled vehicles blocking evacuation efforts is overcooked. The Elevated option will still have ample shoulder space to allow stalled vehicles to move over...and it's not as if traffic will be going at 50 miles an hour in a major evacuation. Even the Partially Depressed/Covered option will utiize a 150 foot right-of-way, which is still enough for 6 lanes of traffic plus a 12' outer shoulder in each direction, a 10' inner shoulder, and still enough room for a 30' median. In addition, even with the plan to convert the Thruway into a Complete Streets boulevard, there will still, even with the Connector freeway built, be enough leeway for the Thruway as a backup reinforcement.

    To put it simply....this is more myopia designed to scare people.