Walter Pierce

Stimulus priorities questioned

by Walter Pierce

Members of the Lafayette Consolidated Council questioned traffic and transportation officials Monday about some $21 million dollars in highway projects and transit-system upgrades, roughly $9.5 million of which can be funded through federal stimulus money.

Road projects on the list include resurfacing University Avenue from Pinhook Road to Carencro, lighting upgrades at the I-10/I-49 interchange, and widening U.S. Hwy. 90 from four to six lanes between Morgan Street and Albertson Parkway in Broussard. The projects were developed through the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which comprises council members along with volunteer committees that make recommendations on priorities.

Not all the projects can be done with federal stimulus money, and some council members questioned how the list was prioritized. The council could vote March 24 on whether to direct $5.5 million in stimulus money to the project in Broussard, according to City-Parish President Joey Durel. The state has already funded a $20 million project that will widen U.S. 90 from Pinhook Road to Morgan Street in Broussard.

In other council business, Tony Tramel, LCG’s director of traffic and transportation, acknowledged that the $5.2 million list of potential upgrades to the city’s bus system is an either/or proposition.

"We can’t have our cake and eat it, too?" asked District 3 councilman Brandon Shelvin, referring on one side to a proposed $2.5 million upgrade to the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown and on the other side to the remaining $2.7 million split among 13 other projects including the purchase of two new buses, hurricane-proofing bus shelters and upgrading transit communications systems. Tramel indicated that the level of stimulus funding would allow LCG to either upgrade the Rosa Parks Transportation Center or do the other 13 projects, but not to do both.