Public input solicited on 10-mile extension proposal
LAFAYETTE — The public will have a chance Wednesday to comment on plans for a 10-mile northern extension of Ambassador Caffery Parkway — a project still in its infancy but one that could ease congestion and open large rural tracts for development in northern Lafayette Parish.
A public hearing is set for Wednesday on the extension, Swhich has an estimated cost of $118 million. The road would stretch a four-lane extension of Ambassador Caffery from its end near Interstate 10 to Interstate 49 near Carencro.
Work on the state project, assuming funding is secured, could still be several years away, but officials are now trying to identify the path the road might take.
The discussions come after the southern extension of Ambassador Caffery was completed in 2010, pushing the four-lane six miles from Verot School Road to U.S. 90 near Broussard.
The proposed northern extension would pass through portions of Carencro, Scott and unincorporated Lafayette Parish and complete a major north-south traffic corridor for the parish.
“I look at that as a miniloop,” said Scott Mayor Purvis Morrison.
Morrison said he expects the new road would be heavily used and could spur economic development on the outskirts of Scott.
“I just hope to have it done in a timely manner and not in 20 years,” he said.
At the public hearing Wednesday, officials with the state Department of Transportation and Development, Lafayette city-parish government and the Federal Highway Administration will present information on the proposed route and alternative routes as well as discuss the need and impact of the project.
The main route under consideration cuts through a mostly undeveloped area of the parish, but about 40 structures would have to be relocated: 17 homes, 2 businesses and 21 mobile homes, according to information from DOTD.
Once a specific route is approved, officials could then begin working to discourage development along that route to keep it clear for future use, said City-Parish Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel, whose department is working with DOTD on the project.
Tramel said those so-called “corridor management” efforts would be voluntary, such as informing people that a road is planned for the area and possibly buying property from willing sellers.
DOTD estimates spending about $16 million to acquire rights-of-way for the road and to relocate homes and businesses.
Tramel projected it could take more than 15 years before the new road is built, but that timeline is not unusual considering the size of the project, the planning involved and the amount of money needed.
“If it was easy, it would have already been built,” Tramel said.
He also said any discussions about funding should include the consideration of a special taxing district, which would use tax money from commercial developments that take shape along the road to help repay the cost of building it.
“Clearly, if you are trying to figure out how to have enough money to build this thing, it has to be on the table,” Tramel said.
Similar special sales tax districts are in place at the Louisiana Avenue/I-10 interchange in Lafayette as well as in parts of Carencro, Scott and Broussard.
The public hearing on the Ambassador Caffery Parkway extension is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Carencro Community Center on North University Avenue in Carencro.