Supporters: Isaac shows interstate through bayou parishes needed - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Supporters: Isaac shows interstate through bayou parishes needed

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Terrebonne Parish, La. - The signs have been up for years: Highway 90, the future corridor of I-49 South.

The proposal would upgrade the road to interstate standards, linking Lafayette to the Westbank Expressway in Jefferson Parish.

"I think that this project was envisioned almost back to the time when they started talking about interstates," says Leonard Marretta, transportation division administrator for the South Central Planning and Development Commission. "It's a logical compliment to what we currently have with I-10 when you're talking east-west connections."

The commission represents six parishes including Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Charles, part of the proposed footprint for I-49 South.

Marretta says Hurricane Isaac showed the vulnerability of the area's evacuation routes.  I-10 in St. John Parish was submerged for days after the storm.

"This would give us another interstate option," he says. "We also talked about having people move out of harm's way from our lower parishes, particularly our bayou parishes and when we start to move those people north, we want to be able to have the connection made to the interstate."

Upgrading Highway 90 between Lafayette and New Orleans would cost more than $5 billion. The questions no one can answer right now, who would pay for it and how.

The Department of Transportation and Development ordered a report on the feasibility of tolls to pay for the project.  The results are expected by the end of this year.

For now, I-49 South remains what the state calls an "unfunded need."  Marretta says the signs will remain.

"The signs are there to remind us and to remind our legislators that we're interested and we do need this project and we anticipate it will happen sometime in the future," he says.

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