Monday, April 15, 2024

Allendale Strong continues to call for responsible transportation planning 11 years in a row

by BIZ Magazine

Since February of 2012, Allendale Strong members have been working together to renew our community Relationally, Economically, and Environmentally. That includes politely and consistently advocating for separating through traffic from local business traffic. In the decade since the 3.5 mile I-49 Inner City Connector (ICC) “zombie” project has been revived by the Committee of 100 and other community members, North Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) has repeatedly ignored input from any community members who are not in favor of building the connector through the heart of Shreveport. We have to assume that the upcoming public input meeting will lead to more of the same – carefully recording opinions on all sides, only to ignore those who advocate for anything other than the destruction of our historic, downtown adjacent neighborhoods. 

NLCOG will be presenting the route options for public input on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, from 3:30-6:30pm at the Shreveport Convention Center in the Captain Shreve Ballrooms C & D. They will be labeled as 1, 2, 3, 3A, and 5. All of these route options explored by NLCOG are bad for the neighborhood and bad for the city at large. The only option that does not defy federal laws (1965 Transportation Act and 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)) is #5, which would designate 3132 as the I-49 Loop and use federal dollars to make it bigger and wider. Using the 3132 loop is what we’ve recommended for over a decade. While #5 gets closest to what we have learned are the best practices for cities, adding lanes and expanding capacity as planned would certainly be a waste of taxpayer dollars.

We encourage citizens to attend the public input meeting to learn more about all of the proposed routes for a project which cannot be completed for another 20 years. Which ill-advised construction project would you like a billion taxpayer dollars to be tied up in for two decades? NLCOG is currently projecting a record of decision will be made by next year, regardless of public input. We also anticipate filing a lawsuit (we have received legal assistance from over a dozen pro-bono attorneys) if the decision handed down is any of the first four route options through the city. All four are illegal. All four cannot get funding from the federal government. All four would destroy valuable historic areas of our city, and burden us with the maintenance and upkeep of a billion-dollar project that no one needs, and that would make the problem of sprawl in Shreveport much worse. The I-49 ICC 3.5 mile cut-through freeway proposal was officially removed from consideration twice by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), first in recognition that it violates 1969 NEPA, then in a 1996 corridor study stating the existing 3132 loop would be designated I-49 through Shreveport due to the ICC proposal being redundant, wasteful and harmful. Why has NLCOG and business interest continued to advocate for a bad idea?

Allendale Strong has spent over a decade learning about what works best for cities and the people who live there. We’re now proud to be part of a state-wide coalition to change how transportation planning happens (La 4 Corners Coalition) as well as a national group of citizens just like us who are fighting unnecessary interstate projects around the country (Freeway-Fighters.org). The systems that are in charge of building interstates in America are very old and very hard to change. But the things we build in turn shape the way we live. We will continue to advocate for building environments that build community wealth and enhance human health and well-being, rather than cause harm like interstates do. Allendale Strong meets every second Thursday of the month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Friendship House at 1515 Clay Street. We are excited to be able to now turn our attention to renewing SWEPCO Park, creating a Corner Store Food Co-Op, and empowering citizens to become homeowners. 

We hope you’ll join us to work toward building a Shreveport we can all be proud of and that will serve all humans – not just those who own automobiles. 

Allendale Strong is continuing to collect citizen feedback to submit to NLCOG at: Future Survey. Details on how to submit comments directly to NLCOG outside of the Oct. 17 meeting will be posted at allendalestrong.org.

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