New route for residents in northern part of parish
LAFAYETTE — A new four-lane section of the Louisiana Avenue extension opened Thursday, stretching nearly a mile from Maryview Farm Road north to Butcher Switch Road and opening up large vacant tracts in north Lafayette.
“There is a lot of land for development,” said Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Jay Castille, whose district takes in the new portion of Louisiana Avenue.
He said the road is a welcome new route for residents in the northern part of the parish who now struggle with heavy morning traffic as they travel into Lafayette on Evangeline Thruway or University Avenue.
“At 8 o’clock in the morning, it’s bumper to bumper,” Castille said.
The work to push Louisiana Avenue into north Lafayette began in the 1980s and has been one of city-parish government’s main road projects in recent years.
The final leg of the extension will extend Louisiana Avenue to Gloria Switch Road near the Carencro city limits and is expected to be finished by 2016, City-Parish Director of Public Works Tom Carroll said.
The section that opened Tuesday cost $6 million, and the final stretch is estimated at $4.5 million.
Despite expectations of development along earlier phases of Louisiana Avenue, there has been little commercial activity on sections of the road that have already been built, with the exception of the large retail center at the Interstate 10 interchange.
City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, whose district takes in earlier phases of Louisiana Avenue, said he expects to begin seeing more interest from developers, especially after the final leg of the project connects to Gloria Switch — a major traffic route that will open up Louisiana Avenue to most of northern Lafayette Parish.
“I really think it’s going to take off,” Boudreaux said.
He said some of the hesitation on the part of the development community is likely due to uncertainty about new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps that put a few areas near Louisiana Avenue in a floodway.
Still, most of the frontage along the road is in the clear, Boudreaux noted.
He suggested city-parish government might need to take a more active role in encouraging development in the area.
“It’s just going to take some motivation and encouragement, even if we need some incentive-based programs to get that going,” Boudreaux said.