Another bill targets expressway commission

by Leslie Turk

After last year's unsuccessful attempt by the Lafayette delegation to create the Energy Corridor Commission as a revamped version of the Metropolitan Expressway Commission, Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Crowley, has a new proposal to partner the parishes of Iberia and Lafayette behind the push for I-49. Among the top priorities for the Lafayette delegation during the 2009 regular session was to create something called the Energy Corridor Commission, which would have basically been a revamped version of the existing Lafayette Metropolitan Expressway Commission with additional membership.

At the time, Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, proposed to pull in stakeholders from as far away as the central coastline and have them consider funding opportunities like tolls. But lawmakers balked.

Back for another bite at the apple this year is Rep. Jack Montoucet D-Crowley. His House Bill 684 would change the name of the existing commission to the Regional Expressway Commission. In a nutshell, this updated proposal would partner the parishes of Iberia and Lafayette behind the push for I-49.

Under Montoucet's bill and the current law, two members each come from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce; and one member each is appointed by the city/parish president of Lafayette, Lafayette City-Parish Council and one of the local mayors in an incorporated municipality of the parish.

Here's what would change: the state Department of Transportation and Development as well as UL would lose one seat each and be confined to one appointment each. Their picks would instead go to the governing authorities of Iberia Parish and the city of Iberia.

HB 684 has not yet been debated this session, but it has been scheduled for a hearing by the House Municipal and Parochial Affairs Committee May 3.