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Environmental Impact Statement definition from Wikipedia

John Caruthers
I-49/I-69 Article
circa 2002

It is a Safety Issue.

I-49 Path Aerial Photos

Vision for Growth: Bloggers at the ShreveportTimes.com, August 2007

New U.S. DOT Rule Allows States Flexibility to Build Roads and Bridges Faster

Arkansas commits to last 4 miles to Louisiana Line: - Gard Wayt "Getting It Done"
I-49 North Coalition 8-29-07

I-69 is Priority, Great......

People With "A Passion" Can Make The Difference

100 Cow Town? We Think Not

Progress...Look At The Map. It's Pretty Simple. Straight Path through The City & Everyone Wins.

Governor-Elect Bobby Jindal appoints Bill Ankner as Director of LA DOTD
(Dated: 12-28-07)

Hwy. 3132 Buckles in Heat....Not Cost Effective for I-49

HURRICANE EVACUATION ROUTE: I-49 NORTH TOWARDS ARKANSAS

What's Wrong with This Photo?


article

From Others---

Shreveport could face enormous growth with completion of I-69, I-49

By: Jay Dauenhauer (from labudget.lsu.edu) recent history, no date given, but suspect it is circa 2002.

John Caruthers is a retired oilman from Shreveport. One afternoon in 1991, he was entertaining some visitors from Indiana. During their conversation, the subject came up about an Interstate route that would connect Toronto to Mexico City. Caruthers then moved over to a small map of the United States. 

Taking out a black magic marker, he drew a line connecting Indianapolis, Memphis, Shreveport, and Houston. This was the first drawing of the "NAFTA Highway," or I-69.



Now, dozens of congressional committees and millions of dollars in exploratory research later, I-69 is on the fast track. According to the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG), the price tag for the Louisiana portion is somewhere near $980 million, with Louisiana paying for about $150 million of the cost. 

In Baton Rouge, support is strong. Legislators understand that an intercontinental highway through Louisiana (in addition to the completion of I-49 North) would be a tremendous boost for its already expansive port system.

In Washington, support for the project is also high. According to Kent Rogers of NLCOG, the legislation granting the development of I-69 has Shreveport included in the bill. However, legislation begets legislation. In 2003, Congress will finalize its National Highway Reauthorization Bill. This will be the final hurdle towards getting the Interstate built.

Corridor to the Future

Unfortunately, building a road like this involves a few more steps than drawing lines on a map and laying concrete. First, a corridor, or broad outline of the route must be approved. Next, extensive environmental studies of the area must take place. Rogers says that is the stage I-69 is in right now. Currently, seven possible corridors are considered for the 35-mile stretch between I-20 and U.S. Hwy. 171 in Stonewall, La. Experts expect "Corridor E" to win out because it satisfies several criteria developers find important: 1) It is relatively close to Barksdale Air Force Base 2) It hugs the Shreveport-Bossier Metro Area 3) It goes near the new port development south of town 4) It avoids Wallace Lake 5) And it reaches Stonewall on the north side, closest to Shreveport.

Skeptics who view a map of the I-69 corridor may scratch their heads, wondering why anyone would want to build a road as large as this through a relatively rural area. According to Rogers, the corridor locations were the most obvious choice, being that there was really nowhere to build inside of Shreveport. He also mentions the Interloop phenomenon, which occurred in cities like Houston and Dallas. In these cities, he says, outlying expressways allowed for expansion that wouldn't have been possible if they had been built closer to the metro areas.

Building farther away also has other advantages. One is that the area south of Shreveport is extremely sparse. So sparse in fact, that of the 200-plus square miles of corridors studied, there are only three separate apartment complexes. What's more, once one of the mile-wide corridors is selected, planners will then choose a 300-foot span within that area to build the road. Therefore, only a fraction, if any, of the homes may actually be displaced. 

Tim Smith, who is leading the environmental study for the I-20-to-171 corridor, says that most of the people he's encountered during the study have been receptive. "Most of the time they're just curious," he says. He also feels that his goal in the study is damage control-picking a route that will disrupt the surrounding area the least. "One of our goals is to not divide property lines if we can.This project is a lot easier than some of the other projects we've done. With those, you were talking about going into heavily populated areas and displacing entire neighborhoods."

Good for Business

Experts also feel that the I-69 needs to intersect the new port south of Shreveport. This would help maximize the shipping and commerce potential of I-69. Rogers says the port will play a major part in the area's future as a commerce leader. In this one area, distributors will have sea, land, air, and rail capability (Union Pacific has plans to redirect their lines to intersect with the port). "[NLCOG] went to a national commerce meeting last year," Rogers recalls. "And when we told them we were from Shreveport, they told us, 'You guys are it.' We're talking one-day shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S."

Rogers also claims that several businesses, especially from California, have shown interest in coming to the state once the proposed infrastructure is in place. "One of the things they are drawn to is our cheap and reliable source of power," he says, referring to a proposed power plant near the port which will produce five times the power the Shreveport area currently consumes. 

Dick Bremer, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, is also optimistic, yet willing to wait until the legislative support is there. "Once [the funding] is in place, it wouldn't be too early to start contacting companies and say, 'You might want to factor this into your planning,'" he says. "We're not going to wait around until it's done."

For the Shreveport community, I-69 is extremely important. The community would then be a part of direct international trade, connecting the Midwest and Canada to shipping in Latin America. And with the completion of the northern I-49 extension, the community will fall into a small and exclusive group: one of only six cities in the U.S. with three intercontinental highways (the third is I-20).

The Twin Sister: I-49

Experts, however, insist that I-49 is really the project to watch for now. For one, development on the north extension is further along in development. Whereas I-69 is still conducting environmental research studies, Bremer says I-49 is now ready to break ground-with adequate funding, of course. 

What's more, the I-49 extension is much more favorable to the entire state. I-69, which hugs a small route in the northeast corner, has many people from southern Louisiana feeling left out. Yet I-49, with the addition of the southern corridor connecting Lafayette to New Orleans, allows a much larger part of the state to get in on the action. According to Bremer, "When we're promoting the completion of I-49 North, it's not only to benefit Northwest Louisiana, but it can also benefit the entire state of Louisiana with all that trade going out from the Port of New Orleans."

The Road from Here

Interstate projects are slow-moving beasts, and it may be years before any of us can make that straight shot from Shreveport to the Windy City. Funny though, that there appears to be such a sense of immediacy to all the parties working on this project. The biggest sense of worry comes from the I-49 extension, which according to Bremer is "ours to lose." It works like this: if Louisiana cannot come up with adequate funding--or the necessary legislation--to complete the I-49 extension, then Texas could upgrade their existing Hwy. 59 at Texarkana. If this happens, then all commerce from I-49 North goes to Houston and Louisiana loses out.

The game plan for now is to win support for both I-69 and the I-49 North extension in both the Louisiana legislature and Washington. In 2003, Congress will renew its Highway Reauthorization Bill. It is here, experts say, that the fate of I-49 and 69 will be decided. Many believe that support is strong and both projects will pass. Experts in Shreveport and representatives in Baton Rouge say that I-69 and I-49 are high priority. The U.S. Department of Transportation listed the I-49 North corridor as its number one priority last November. Bremer says that the local funding for I-49 is in place; all they need is the go-ahead from Washington and Baton Rouge.

I-69 also has support, primarily from the large coalition of states in Washington that it will pass through. Because you've got so many states involved," says Bremer, "you've got more impact with all the various state representatives and state senators." 

Yet none of this may have happened had it not been for John Caruthers. Though he may not have been a lawmaker or politician, Caruthers was able to spearhead an international construction project. Despite this accomplishment, however Caruthers remains humble. "This project has been the result of a lot of good, hardworking people in both the Shreveport community and all across the country."

National coalitions, billions of dollars and a magic marker.