Tuesday, January 24, 2023

I-49 Connector Civil Right Violation Complaint Accepted for Investigation

FWHA Civil Rights Title VI

Connector Comments readers may recall that in November 2021 Lafayette resident Ann Burruss wrote a letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg opposing the plan for the Lafayette I-49 Connector. A staff member assigned to respond to her letter told Ann that her letter appeared to be a civil rights complaint. With Ann's consent, her letter was then processed as a complaint. Ann followed up on this complaint providing evidence that the Connector's corridor was indeed selected to follow the historic line of racial segregation in our city. With Ann's permission, her letter submitting this evidence is reprinted below. 

On January 18, 2023, Ann received a letter via email saying "that the FHWA Office of Civil Rights has accepted for investigation your complaint of discrimination." The investigation will focus on "Whether the Lafayette I-49 Connector Project creates potential disparate, adverse impacts to residents based on race, color, or national origin." Readers may wish to send their own letters supporting this complaint or providing additional evidence. Comments or supplemental evidence should reference complaint number DOT# 2022-0093 and should be submitted to:

Erik Lacayo
Title VI Program Analyst
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Civil Rights
(202) 913-3926

If you do send a comment or document, please let us know about it in the comments section at the bottom of this article. 


Federal Highway Administration                                    March 31, 2022
Office of Civil Rights (Attention: Erik Lacayo)
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Reference: HCR-20
DOT# 2022-0093

Subject: Complaint #2022-0093

Mr. Lacayo,
Enclosed are documents that I hope you will find useful.
  • Ordinance No. 127, City of Lafayette Louisiana, enacted October 22, 1923, 4 pages
  • 1928 Sanborn Fire Map close up, 1923 segregation areas in blue
  • 1928 Sanborn Fire Map reference
  • 1928 Sanborn Fire Map blow up, segregation areas in blue (can piece together and tape) 8 pages
  • I-49 Connector Alignment, overview
  • I-49 Connector Alignment folded map, streets in 1923 segregation area identified for cross reference
  • 1928 Sanborn Fire Map folded map, 1923 segregation area in orange, I-49 Connector alignment in pink

Again, I thank you and the department for investigating the I-49 Connector project for Civil Rights violations. To me, who has very little idea of how a Civil Rights violation is determined, the documents are a clear illustration that the 1-49 project as proposed is inherently unjust and in violation.

If there is any additional information I can provide, I will do my best. At this point this is what I have regarding the racially unjust impacts of the project. The path of this project follows a clearly defined racial segregation line from the past. Establishing that line in 1923 was all that was needed to etch in stone an economic and racial divide that exists in this city on these streets to this day. The ordinance was subsequently repealed because, I've been told, that white people lived within the zones designated as "negro communities" and did not want to move. Of course subsequent jurisprudence and federal law disallowed such ordinances, however, the damage was done. If this project is built through the center of our city this racist past will carry its racist impacts into our future.


Ann Burruss