To Toll, or Not to Toll: I-49 South in Lafayette
State transportation officials are examing whether tolls would be a viable option to pay for the completion of Interstate 49 south from Lafayette to New Orleans.
It’s estimated that it will cost five-billion dollars to build an interstate that would connect the two cities. DOTD spokeswoman Dedra Lockhart says tolls are a possible funding tool that’s being considered. The state legislature has passed a resolution requesting a study to be completed.
The state Department of Transportation and Development will issue a report by year’s end on using tolls to help pay for the completion of Interstate 49 south from Lafayette to New Orleans.
The idea of tolls for the road has been bounced around for several years as one option for a project that would cost an estimated $5 billion to complete.
The DOTD study was called for by a resolution the Legislature passed this session, with a request the report be completed by December.
“It’s another funding tool for consideration and public discussion,” DOTD Deputy Secretary Eric Kalivoda said.
The DOTD study is researching the toll option. The Expressway Commission has taken the local lead in the search for I-49 funding.
The group is studying using tolls for two shorter options. It has not looked at using tolls for the entire I-49 south project. There’s an 18-mile stretch from Lafayette going south and a 37-mile stretch from Lafayette through Iberia Parish that are being studied.
The cost would range from $1 billion to $1.4 billion.
Consultants for a study last year were hired by the Expressway Commission. The commssion said tolls of 16 cents per mile for passenger vehicles could cover about half the cost for the 18-mile or 37-mile options. That would make the projects more feasible.