March 15, 2016 12:38 AM

The April 6 INDesign Awards Luncheon features a panel of key players as new ways to design the highway emerge.

The April 6 INDesign Awards Luncheon features a panel of key players as new ways to design the highway emerge.

What exactly is the I-49 Connector destined to connect? Envisioned 30 years ago to benefit hurricane evacuation and commercial transit, the project lay dormant for seven years while an environmental lawsuit worked its way through the courts. That settled, last year a 20th century blueprint was pulled from the shelf to collide with 21st century changes in lifestyle choices that now value urban environments. The I-49 Connector is a snippet of mega-highway designed to connect heartland and coast. Done right, its greatest value to Lafayette has the potential to reconnect our city with itself and mitigate the blight caused by the Evangeline Thruway.

The state Department of Transportation and Development and Lafayette Consolidated Government are utilizing the best planning processes available to achieve this lofty goal. We’re told that this could be a model for the nation and that the eyes of urban planners all across the country are on Lafayette, where both optimists and skeptics abound. All are encouraged to let the process — called a Context Sensitive Solution — run its course. CSS seeks to balance the need to move traffic efficiently and safely while taking into account historic preservation, environmental sustainability and the creation of vital public spaces.

There are lots of moving parts and players.

To bring clarity to both the process and the progress, we’ve invited a panel of those playing key roles in this critical community discussion to keynote at the 2016 INDesign Awards Luncheon on April 6 at the City Club at River Ranch. Representatives of DOTD, LCG, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and consulting firm Stantec have committed. (We hope to include the Federal Highway Administration as well.) With recent breakthroughs in meetings of the Community Working Group, including among others the concept of a signature bridge for Lafayette, this presentation comes at a critical time.

The INDesign Awards for excellence in architecture and interior design will also be presented at the luncheon. Winning firms in the residential division, profiled in the March issue of The Independent, include Zaunbrecher Design, Kelly Sere Design, Grayson Carter Design, db Architecture of Acadiana, Trahan Architecture+Planning, Casie Webb Designs, April Hanks Guillory, NMF Architecture and Charles Seale.

Winners in the commercial division are profiled in this issue on Page 27.

INDesign sponsors include Van Eaton & Romero, Southern Lifestyle Development and Doug Ashy Building Materials. Tickets are $45 per person or $395 for a reserved table of eight. For ticket information, contact Amanda Terry: amandat@theind.com.

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