SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - What is expected to be a third and final round of public input meetings over the next three days began on Tuesday.
"The turnout is fantastic," said Shreveport Chamber president Dick Bremer.
The Chamber hosted the first of the six public meetings this week, but they have also made it clear what they desire in the debate over to finish I-49 in Shreveport by building it through downtown or around the city.
"From our standpoint, it would be an economic bonanza for our city of Shreveport if we can go through the city," touted Bremer.
Four options presented by the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments takes proposed routes through the Allendale or Ledbetter Heights neighborhoods, just west of downtown. Those options would basically pick up right where I-49 currently dead ends at I-20, and then run north and northwest in a path toward where the final stages of construction of connecting I-49 from the north to I-220 is taking place now. The fifth option would take I-49 around the city using the current corridors of LA 3132 and I-220 over Cross Lake.
"We do not believe looping it is an appropriate way to go. It's much, much too costly," added Bremer.
To loop it around the city, engineers hired to study all five options report that all of LA 3132 and I-220, including the bridge over Cross Lake, would have to be widened to six lanes from it's current four lanes, and a number of interchanges would have to be reworked.
"I didn't know until today that this is how the input meetings would go," said Allendale resident Dorothy Wiley.
She is referring to the format, which involves watching a short video presentation then being allowed to review all of the materials, maps and research related to the five options. Anyone attending can then write down a comment or record their comment for NLCOG and LA DOTD officials to review after the meetings.
"I thought it would be more of an open public forum where we could ask questions that everybody would be involved in and hear our questions," added a frustrated Wiley.
She admitted she was hoping she would be able to publicly share her feelings and address NLCOG and other officials directly. But NLCOG executive director Kent Rogers said reviewing the comments after the meetings is the most efficient way to handle the input.
"We'll provide that input back to DOTD and federal highways officials and then, depending on what types of comments they are, address them in the appropriate manner," explained Rogers.
He added allowing everyone to write or record their comments guarantees everyone will be heard. Rogers says they could end up with hundreds of comments before the six meetings are over, based on the number of people that attended the first meeting.
"We are very impressed with the turnout today," added Bremer.
Huntington-South Caddo Library
2111 W. Bert Kouns
11am - 1pm
Galilee Missionary Baptist Church
1500 Pierre Avenue
6pm - 8pm
Shreveport Convention Center
400 Caddo Street
11am - 1pm
LA Technical College - S/B campus
2010 N. Market Street
6pm - 8pm
Mt. Canaan Baptist Church
1666 Alston Street