I-49 South Coalition
"America's Energy Corridor"
"Let's Drive 49 South"
For years, I-49 South has been a project that has been worked on by our groups and parishes with many successes along the way. The I-49 South Coalition (see www.drive49south.org) will unify our efforts into a focused organization to fight for the advocacy, promotion and funding for the completion of I-49 South.
The benefits of upgrading Highway 90, "America’s Energy Corridor”, to an interstate are numerous.
- Increased Economic Growth: An interstate encourages economic growth and our region’s location is primed for major economic expansion. Significant job creation will greatly contribute to an enhanced "quality of life” for existing and new residents adding potentially billions of dollars to our regional economy.
- Completed Regional Infrastructure: I-49 South is a major piece towards completing our regional infrastructure network. Our region already possesses great ports, railways and airports; an interstate will only enhance our region’s marketability.
- Enhanced Safety: Too many accidents, injuries and deaths occur along Highway 90, in its current state. An upgrade to interstate standard would provide for much safer travel for our citizens and our families.
- Organized Evacuation: An interstate would facilitate a safer and more efficient evacuation during hurricane season.
For many years, progress on I-49 South has been piecemeal and gradual though important and welcomed for our economy. Governor Jindal has committed the use of unclaimed property from the Treasury to be bonded out to complete some overpasses in the West and progress is continuing in the Iberia Parish area. However, money is competitive and scarce with the current fiscal situation in Baton Rouge and Washington. Therefore, it is important to have an organization that is solely focused on identifying funding streams for the project.
Thus, Louisiana State Senator R.L. "Bret” Allain of District 21 formed the I-49 South Coalition in partnership with Community Foundation of Acadiana (CFA). The Coalition is modeled after other organizations such as the LA-1 Coalition and the I-49 North Coalition. As the Coalition is not a legal entity, it has partnered with CFA. The Foundation is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization that works to enhance the quality of life in our communities by connecting all generous people to the causes they care about. CFA partners with individuals, families, corporations, other foundations and nonprofits, as well as federal, state and local governments to help make a lasting contribution. The Coalition’s charitable intent to better our region through the creation of an interstate is a great fit for the Foundation.
Through this partnership, CFA will serve as fiscal sponsor of the project and will oversee and manage all financial and administrative tasks. Additionally, all contributions to this project, including membership dues, will be tax-deductible.
An initial meeting of regional groups from across the Lake Charles area to the River Parishes region took place on January 29, 2013. It was decided that in order to accomplish its goals, the coalition will have to raise money to advocate and promote the project. Thus, three different membership options for business, industry and the general public were established to raise funds for the project. (The following membership levels and figures will be reviewed by the full Board in early 2014.)
- Citizen: minimum $50 investment, non-voting membership, and will receive updates and announcements from the coalition.
- Stakeholder: minimum $500 investment and one (1) vote in the coalition.
- Champion: minimum $2,000 investment and a maximum two (2) votes in the coalition. Investments above $2,000 are encouraged.
Memberships will be annual based on a calendar year. Membership dues will be used to promote the goals of the group including hiring a Director and an administrator in charge of public relations and member services to push the agenda and execute the coalition’s plans. As the organization is to be community and industry driven, regional industrial, civic and economic development groups will be tasked with encouraging their memberships to invest in the effort.
Coalition Board of Directors
The coalition Board of Directors will be elected by the membership and will consist of approximately 20 members (10 from the eastern zone and 10 from the western zone). This board will create the by-laws, set the direction of the group, hire personnel and elect an executive committee. In order to be eligible for election to the board, members must be a member in good standing at the Stakeholder level, at a minimum.
There is a potential for 2 seats on the board for those who are Citizen level members. Ideas are being discussed on how to give a voice to the Citizen group. Possibly will have one member from the East and one member from the West on the Board from the Citizen level (Citizen level will vote for these 2 seats).
- Segment the Project into Phases: Early estimates suggest the total cost of connecting I-49 at Lafayette to I-310 at Boutte to be $4.5 billion. The project should be broken down into segments and phases that will be linked together.
- Raise Awareness: Create a strong media presence to bring overall awareness to the general public including the following:
- Host events along the corridor to promote the importance of the project
- Voice the region's needs and bring that message to DOTD, the Governor and to Washington
- Create a website
- Create a presence in social media
- Become "Shovel Ready": Stimulus funds were available in 2009, and only one of our projects was in this category. We need to have these projects ready to go to bid when monies become available.
- Identify Funding Streams: Funding streams will need to be identitifed and explored and environmental assessments will need to be completed throughout the corridor where needed.
- Link to adjoining States: As we move forward, a larger goal of the coalition will be to link Texas and Mississippi along this southern route when I-49 South is completed.
- Connect Corridor to the West: To foster regional support and maximize the economic development potential of an uninterrupted safe Interstate system, the coalition will plan to build a new I-10 bridge in Lake Charles to connect the Energy Corridor seamlessly to the West.
- Establish a Partnership with CFA: The Community Foundation of Acadiana will serve as fiscal sponsorship and the back-office of the project to manage all financial matters of the coalition. This partnership will allow all contributions to the project to be tax-deductible.
Now is the time to refocus our efforts on making I-49 South a reality, remove the "Future Corridor” signs, and finally place signs that simply read "I-49.” I-49 North is fully funded and the expansion of the I-10/I-12 Corridor is well underway. We are the last major project left on the table, and this is our chance. Now is the time to attract more business and industry to South Louisiana. Now is the time to create an area that our children and grandchildren can call home for a lifetime. And now is the time to finally have the interstate our economy and our families deserve.
How Can I Participate?
Please visit www.cfacadiana.org/I-49SouthCoalition
to complete the membership application and remit payment online. Payments may also be made by check. Please make checks payable to Community Foundation of Acadiana and write "I-49 South Coalition” in the memo. Forms and payments may be mailed to:
The Picard Group
c/o Dawn Cole
1200 Camellia Boulevard, Suite 101
Lafayette, LA 70508
If you would like to discuss the project further, feel free to contact the Coalition’s Executive Director Mike Michot at 337-989-0071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.