House blocks Johnson’s I-49 Inner-City Connector amendment

An attempt by Congressman Mike Johnson, R-04, to accelerate the I-49 Inner-City Connector project in Shreveport at the federal level was thwarted by House Democrats, according to a press release from Johnson’s office.

Johnson offered an amendment to federal highway legislation that would require the Secretary of Transportation to accelerate the environmental review process for the I-49 Inner-City Connector.

According to the release, the amendment was an effort to address continued delays in the environmental review process which have stalled the project from moving forward.

Johnson’s amendment would have called on the Department of Transportation to ensure the review is completed timely without undermining applicable environmental laws or opportunities for public engagement.

Eight years into the environmental review process, Louisianians are still waiting on the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments and the state to produce a draft environmental impact study (EIS), and they have recently indicated one will not be completed until mid-2021 at the earliest. 

“It’s outrageous that the environmental review process for the I-49 Inner-City Connector has already taken 8 years to complete — double the average time — and it is still nowhere close to being finished. This is an ideal project to facilitate the recovery and growth of Northwest Louisiana, particularly in a time when we so desperately need it,” Johnson said. 

“Unfortunately, House Democrats blocked this important amendment and prevented a vote on the floor. We will not give up, and I will continue to fight for this project and the best interests of all the people of our state.”

On June 15, Congressman Johnson and local leaders in Northwest Louisiana sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana DOT Secretary Shawn Wilson, Louisiana Division Administrator Wes Bollinger, Providence Engineering Interim CEO Rich Major, and Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments Executive Director Kent Rogers calling to finish I-49 Inner-City Connector Project (ICC) in Shreveport. The letter highlights concerns with the continued delays in the environmental review process, and calls on state leaders to ensure the project’s EIS is completed quickly and correctly.