Try as they might to shake it, DOTD and its contracted design partners have been dogged with a reputation for indifference toward public comment in the planning process for the I-49 Connector. It's probably best said that public comment is tightly controlled rather than openly discouraged, though some would argue that the result is the same.
For the most part, citizens who want to comment on the at-best controversial project — which would build 5.5 miles of urban freeway through Lafayette's historic core — at present have limited opportunities to do so.
Addressing a meeting of the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, a Lafayette resident, acknowledged a mixed feeling toward the project hovering over the community at large.
"I don’t know that we’ve been given clear direction from the community that we don’t want an interstate," Wilson said. "I don’t know that we’ve been given clear direction from the community that we want an interstate."
Tonight's open house meeting from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Progressive Outreach Center could be a fulcrum point in that discussion.
How the public comment lodged tonight will affect the ongoing Context Sensitive Solutions design process won't be seen until much further in this 18-month process.
Tonight, attendees can walk through stations depicting 12 different design options put on the table through the three CSS working groups. Consultants with the project will be on hand to discuss and explain the plan iterations or the project's process as a whole. The Daily Advertiser's Claire Taylor did a great job of explaining the incremental variations on display in those designs in this piece published earlier in April.
Expect active dissent and rousing discussions bouncing throughout the room. But likely not too many definitive answers to the project's most existential questions.
The Progressive Outreach Center is located at 125 Gallian St. in Lafayette.