Is that I-49 elevated freeway actually going to happen?

The next phase of the seemingly never-ending plan to build an elevated interstate freeway through the heart of old Lafayette gets underway in a week.

The plan is so old early renderings were drawn up by USL.

The next phase of the seemingly never-ending plan to build an elevated interstate freeway through the heart of old Lafayette gets underway in a week — Tuesday, Oct. 6 — at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center Downtown. That’s when Sherri LeBas, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, along with other federal, state and local officials, launch a “collaborative decision-making process” to complete planning and design of the so-called connector — a major step in eventually completing I-49 from Lafayette to New Orleans.

The Public Launch Event will be held at 3 p.m. followed by a public information meeting from 4-7, both at Rosa Parks on the 6th. The twin events will give residents an overview of activities related to the project over the next year and a half.

More from the release announcing the events:

The I-49 Lafayette Connector, part of DOTD’s Geaux South program, is a future 5.5-mile segment of highway that is a critical transportation link for Lafayette and the state as a whole. Recognizing the significance of this project, DOTD has initiated a planning and conceptual design study to complete the Functional Plan for the Connector utilizing a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach.

Early plans for the connector included landscaping, public walkways and even a streetcar system beneath the elevated freeway.

The CSS approach is designed to fulfill 21 commitments established by the I-49 Lafayette Connector ROD. This will include addressing key project-related features where mitigation and other measures to minimize impact need to be considered. The goal is to achieve a project design that’s affordable, acceptable to all key stakeholders and will become a valued community asset. The project team is working closely with local government and city officials to ensure that the project is successful and meets the needs of the community.

Comprehensive communications, public relations, community involvement and stakeholder outreach programs are being developed for the I-49 Lafayette Connector so that all members of the Lafayette Community (residents, businesses, property owners, civic and service organizations) have a variety of opportunities to participate in the CSS process. This will include working community and technical committees, focus groups, stakeholder interviews, design charrettes, neighborhood walkabouts, educational forums and other public meetings and workshops, as well as a website, e-newsletters, a project office and social media.

Along with the CSS and public outreach program, this phase of the project will also include engineering work such as topographic surveys and aerial photography, soil borings, traffic studies and bridge design studies. An environmental re-evaluation will address any relevant laws or regulations, new information or changes in circumstances that might affect the project.

“Completing I-49 South is a top priority for DOTD,” said Secretary LeBas. “We’re committed to completing the Functional Plan for the I-49 Lafayette Connector, as we work to improve our infrastructure and support economic development throughout the state.”