Saturday, May 7, 2016

Health Impacts Near Interstate Highways: More Connector impacts not considered in EIS

Lafayette Connector Conceptual Image

New research shows a link between heart and lung impairment and living near an interstate highway. This research further brings into question the propriety of promoting public use of areas in the vicinity of an interstate. A news report describing these findings was published in the Boston Globe on April 14, 2016. Follow this link to read the story

These findings bring starkly into question the Lafayette Connector Conceptual Design as displayed in their cover photo (above). Promoting pedestrian use, concerts, parks, playgrounds, and other recreational uses under and surrounding the elevated interstate is ill-advised if such activities may increase health risks. Indeed, the social justice of new urban interstate construction is questionable when findings show that residents living near interstates suffer health risks not shared by the rest of the community. Future use of downtown venues for public festivals and concerts will be jeopardized by the Connector.

Foreshadowing the Lafayette Connector: 'The Monster' - Claiborne Avenue Before and After the Interstate

Photo: The Historic New Orleans Collection
George Santayana is credited with saying "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." With that in mind, look at the history of destruction left by the Louisiana DOTD as they developed urban interstates in the 1960's. In New Orleans they proposed the Riverfront Expressway through the French Quarter and along the Mississippi River. Thankfully, the public outcry prevailed to stop the French Quarter section of interstate, but the Expressway was built through the Treme neighborhood over Claiborne Avenue in 1968.

Read more about this history of loss in this WWNO post titled 'The Monster': Claiborne Avenue Before And After The Interstate.

Plans for the Lafayette Connector date back to this era of urban destruction and social injustice. How can DOTD prevent the same destruction and injustice in Lafayette today that they brought about nearly 50 years ago in New Orleans?