Monday, May 23, 2016

The Evangeline Thruway did NOT split our neighborhoods!

Let's look at the actual history of Lafayette. The railroad has been an important part of our city's development. By 1885, Lafayette had a full fledged railroad, and significant freight was shipping from Lafayette by train in the 1890s.  New residences were constructed as the railroad developed. However, the presence of the rail yard limited the connection between communities on its two sides. It was not until 1964, after the rail yard was moved to its current location between Willow and Cameron Streets, that multiple connections between the east and west were established. It was not until the 1960s, for example, that Johnston Street was extended to meet Louisiana Avenue across the abandoned yard.

So, when paid Connector proponents tell you that they are reconnecting our city, remind them that currently more than 30 streets connect east to west across the Thruway. None of the plans for the urban interstate development maintain this level of connectivity, much less increase it.
Reference: C. Ray Brassieur, Lionel Lyles, Michael S. Martinc, Freetown: As it was and as it is, The Freetown History Project Final Report, November 30, 2013, available at

Sanborn overview map, 1940-1949.

1 comment:

  1. This is getting entirely to easy to debunk.

    The Evangeline Thruway was constructed in the 1950's to be a direct north-south through route through the heart of Lafayette. It was also built as part of what was to become a full freeway faciity that extended from Shreveport all the way to New Orleans. That wide median at the Willow Street intersection wasn't built for the benefit of the Gateway Tourist Center, you know; it was built to allow for a future interchange/overpass there. The 300 foot separation between the Evangeline Thruway couplet (compromised only by the reverse curve at Simcoe Street for the northbound roadway to get around St. Genevieve Catholic Church) was designed for a future elevated freeway facility to be placed between the one-way roadways. Therefore, it should have been no surprise at all that the Thruway has become such a physical barrier due to its excessive traffic, and its discouragement of pedestrian and bicycle traffic both on and crossing through the facility.

    In addition....that visual of Lafayette is highly deceptive, because it doesn't show that because of the length of the old Southern Pacific railyard, there were actually few crossing points of the railroad. Before the Johnston Street crossing was built to connect to the Thruway in the 1950's, the only crossings were at Simcoe Street, Jefferson Blvd/Jefferson Street and what ultimately became Taft Street. The Louisiana Avenue extension to the Evangeline Thruway/Johnston Street intersection didn't arrive until the 1970's; until then, east of Johnston was simply Ninth Street. Same is true with the Sixth Street/Lee Avenue connection.)

    And, in any event, the Connector freeway would enhance if not improve cross-connectivity by not only retaining all of the existing cross streets between Mudd Avenue and Pinhook Road, but also (because of the cleanup of the former railyard facility) adding new cross connections between Freetown-Port Rico and McComb-Veazey where none now exist. The removal of the major heavy traffic from the Thruway roadways onto the freeway would significantly remove the principal barrier to localizing and improving the Thruway to be more local-friendly, and significantly remove the barrier effect.