The latest on the I-49 Inner City Connector

I-49 Inner City Connector
I-49 Inner City Connector(KSLA)
Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 8:12 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - It’s been in the works for decades: the Interstate 49 Inner City Connector. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says studies on the project are still being conducted, but even after the studies are completed and the green light is given, funding the project is going to be another road block.

“That typically is one of our larger challenges, especially with a project of this size,” DOTD spokesperson Erin Buchanan said. “We are looking at anywhere between $500 and $600 million for this project.”

DOTD says $100 million has already been put aside for the project but the next phase of the I-49 Inner City Connector project will be identifying where the rest of the funding will come from.

“Yes of course there will be federal dollars involved with a state match, but even a state match is extremely large,” Buchanan said. “It’s fair to say that this project is not fully funded at this time, so that’s going to be another challenge.”

Shreveport-native Willie Bradford says I-49 would help revitalize Allendale.

“It has been a very challenging project. I’ve been involved in it for 20, 25 years. I was born and raised in this community I have always had an inkling for improvement. When I grew up in Allendale it was the hub of the Black community. I would say throughout Shreveport. We had the best schools, grocery store, neighbors and the community had no delipidated or abandoned houses. We even had a theatre and a bank. But over the last 30 years it has declined and there are a lot of reasons for that.”

Bradford says initially, he wasn’t in favor of building the I-49 Inner City Connector.

“It would have uprooted too many families,” Bradford said. “But over the last 30 years there has been a transition, a transformation in the Allendale community. A lot of the people, especially the young people, have left for better opportunities in other parts of Shreveport or have moved outside of Louisiana. It left a void of a generation of people that would replenish Allendale in a way. Up until 25 years ago we had five elementary schools, a junior high school and a high school. Now we only have one elementary school that’s in the old middle school building and the high school, Booker T. Washington, is now the high school and middle school. We have lost so many residents. As the older residents die and younger people don’t assume the properties, those properties became abandoned and then they became dilapidated and most were torn down. Many residents would agree that Allendale is no longer the community that we once knew and we need something to help revitalize it.”

Caddo Commissioner Roy Burrell says more people would benefit if I-49 is completed.

“There is an opportunity here to provide an $860 million a year impact and we are only talking about affecting 52 structures,” Burrell said. “It’s not just housing. Overall it is 52 structures. With the amount of money that could be made and the jobs that would be created it would be an opportunity we can’t miss.”

DOTD says the studies currently underway could wrap up as soon as the end of 2021 or at the start of next year.

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