Sunday, May 15, 2016

Impact of I-49 on the Lafayette Airport

Construction of any tall structures at the end of one of an airport runway is, at best, ill advised. Such structures inevitably increase risk of disaster. Allowing such construction by the I-49 Lafayette Connector project would give travelers the perception that Lafayette has a depreciated value for traveler safety. The Lafayette Airport Commissioners represent the public and are tasked with overseeing airport management and promoting the airport. It therefore seems remarkable that The Lafayette Airport Commission has not strenuously objected to plans to construct the elevated I-49 interstate on the airport boundary immediately at the end of one runway.

The 1975 Lafayette Regional Airport Master Plan Report concluded that conditions on the airport's periphery make any expansion difficult, or expensive, or both. The current plan to reroute Bayou Tortue, fill an area of wetlands within the Bayou's floodplain, and construct a runway extension on this unsupportive fill

  • will be an engineering challenge, 
  • will be environmentally destructive, 
  • will be very costly, and 
  • will be politically sensitive. 
The now-obsolete project EIS fails to evaluate or even consider these impacts.
from Lafayette Regional Airport Master Plan Report, 1975, page 11.

Social Injustice and the I-49 Connector Project reports that according to a report by Loyola University researchers "Louisiana dead last in U.S. social justice." This report dated March 18 2016 is available online at

How does the I-49 Connector fall within this pattern. Planning for the Connector has its roots in the 1960s, a time of very different social justice awareness.  At that time, the idea of urban renewal and improvement was often to simply destroy poor neighborhoods and displace residents to find alternative housing. Homelessness, increased poverty, and loss of community were often the result of this ill-conceived and uncaring strategy. Some urban interstate proponents actually considered the separation and division of communities as positive features of urban interstate divides.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Today, the social impacts of urban interstates are being recognized. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox is speaking out on this subject. See the April 29, 2016, article titled "Transportation Secretary: Interstate Highway System Targeted Black, Low-Income Neighborhoods"

Will the socially unjust I-49 Lafayette Connector be allowed. If the words of Secretary Foxx represent more than just words, this project will never be constructed.