Walter Pierce

Durel questions 'cane-proof bus shelters

by Walter Pierce

The Lafayette Consolidated Council decided to delay until April 7 any decisions on how to divvy up more than $9 million in federal stimulus dollars among a host of road- and public-transit projects. That could give planners time to better streamline priorities on the current list of candidate projects.

City-Parish President Joey Durel publicly questioned the wisdom in at least one of the projects pertaining to public transportation: $75,000 for hurricane-proof bus shelters. The issue came up Thursday morning during Durel’s call-in radio program in KPEL, and he elaborated on it with The Independent Weekly. The proposal for a $75,000 expenditure is not to build the shelters but rather to generate a design for a hurricane-proof shelter. The shelters themselves would cost $7,500 apiece, according to Durel.

“One of my questions was, ‘We’re going to spend $75,000 just to design a hurricane proof shelter that costs us $7,500?’ You know, I’d rather take my chances than spend that much money,” Durel says, “That’s not building it; that’s just designing it.”

Durel also wonders whether LCG could simply pattern a hurricane-proof bus shelter after a pre-existing design, rather than design one from scratch. “Surely, somewhere in the southern part of the United States on the Gulf Coast, somebody has designed a hurricane-proof shelter.”

However, the city-parish president says he isn't too concerned that something like a hurricane-proof bus shelter will get in the way of making the best decisions on how to allocate the stimulus money. “They have to put things on a piece of paper so there can be discussion about it. But that certainly doesn’t make it anywhere close to being etched in stone.”

Other proposals on the list of public-transit projects include $800,000 to purchase two 35-foot low-floor buses and roughly $431,000 to upgrade bus communications systems. By far the most expensive proposal is to spend $2.5 million for upgrades to the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown. A PDF document detailing the list of proposed stimulus spending for both road- and public-transit projects can be obtained here.