LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Acadiana will continue to see work on big ticket DOTD road projects this year. News 10 sat down with DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson to talk about his goals for Acadiana for 2018.
Dr. Wilson lives in Lafayette and commutes to Baton Rouge every day so he’s familiar with Acadiana’s wants and needs.
He said work on Verot School Road will continue in 2018. The DOTD is widening the road from two to four lanes from Feu Follet to Vincent Roads. The $32 million project should wrap up later this year.
"It’s been a heartburn for a lot of citizens and we apologize for that but it’s going to be a much better road to travel once we’re done,” Wilson said.
Work will continue at Albertson Parkway on Highway 90 – which is part of the future I-49 South. Crews are building a new interchange. Wilson said the project is about two-thirds of the way done.
"We see tremendous growth happening already with economic investment and I suspect that that’s going to only increase with the infrastructure,” he said.
Traveling south on Highway 90 – the DOTD has installed more than 30 J-turns from Calumet to Berwick in St. Mary Parish. Wilson said this project will wrap up in a matter of weeks.
"So from a safety perspective we’re really excited about what that’s going to do for us. When we did the Lafayette project it reduced our accidents by 30 percent," Wilson said.
Another project wrapping up soon is the LA-318 interchange in St. Mary Parish. The DOTD is spending $57 million on a new interchange up to interstate standards for I-49 South.
"It’s going to be a really big benefit in terms of safety because that was a real hot spot for us in terms of lives lost and that’s always a problem,” he said.
Over on I-10 another major project is underway. Crews are widening i-10 from four to six lanes from I-49 to the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge.
"Now the Holy Grail for Acadiana I think is making a decision on I-49 South particularly the connector,” Wilson said.
The Lafayette Connector will be a part of I-49 and run from I-10 to just past the Lafayette Regional Airport. It will have elevated and non-elevated sections.
Wilson hopes to have a "record of decision" this year. At that point, he will try to find funding for the project. He said the key is to do the project in small, manageable chunks.
"We don’t just want to build an overpass that you won’t get to use for the next 15 years or the next 10 years,” he said.
“I want to build a segment of it that I can afford to build that will add value to this community today."
Dr. Wilson said there’s been more community engagement on the I-49 South project than any other project in the state.
The Lafayette Connector will carry between 65,000 and 70,000 cars a day.