Environmental Studies

Purpose & Need       Technical Memorandums       Environmental Impact Statement & Tiering  

Purpose of the Project

The purpose of the LRX project is to effectively and expeditiously enhance the regional and national transportation system by improving system linkage, increasing capacity and accommodating transportation demand, and responding to economic development within the greater Lafayette area.

The LRX project is necessary because the existing Lafayette transportation system has been determined to have inadequate capacity to accommodate existing heavy travel demand and anticipated travel demand caused by considerable on-going population growth and expanding economic development. The project is also needed because an integral part of the region’s long-range transportation plan is the improvement of north-south mobility.

Need for the Project

The LRX is being considered to address the following needs:

Roadway Capacity

Inadequate capacity exists to accommodate existing heavy travel demand and anticipated increasing travel demand caused by considerable on-going population growth and expanding economic development within the Lafayette Metropolitan Area.

North-South Mobility
An integral part of the region’s long-range transportation plan is improvement of north-south mobility.

Travel Demand
A need exists to increase roadway capacity to address travel demand. Not only has the population and travel been increasing, but the nature of travel has changed in ways that contribute to greater traffic congestion. The travel patterns of many people have altered with changes in land use. The changes in land use associated with suburbanization have an effect on the characteristics of travel. Rather than the suburb-to-central city commute of the past, today’s commuting patterns are more widely scattered, as inter- and intra-suburban travel has increased. Lafayette Parish’s south side and north side would benefit immensely from much-needed road projects, for different reasons. The south side is experiencing traffic problems due to a lack of capacity and booming development. The recent building booms in Youngsville and Broussard have contributed to the deterioration of traffic service. The north side of Lafayette Parish, on the other hand, has lagged in economic development and is projected to become the next area for new commercial and residential projects. The proposed LRX project would be located parallel to many existing routes and result in reduced traffic on those roadways.

Improving north-south mobility within the local area to address the region’s population and economic growth, transportation demand, and necessary system linkages is an integral part of the region’s long-range transportation plan. Population growth, increased residential development, increased commercial development, and increased regional development have occurred throughout and adjacent to the project area, especially in the southwest portion of the Parish.

The proposed LRX project would provide an alternative route to existing highways and local roads experiencing congestion and would improve access and system linkages with connections to Interstate 10, Interstate 49, and US 90. The proposed Lafayette Regional Xpressway would aid in addressing the issues identified for the region and will be an important element of the region’s long-range transportation plans. Travel demand projections (developed prior to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) for a limited access facility within the general location of the proposed corridors demonstrated that such a facility would serve daily traffic in a range of 46,400 to 85,100 vehicles by 2030. These projections assumed the I-49 Connector and North/South Beltway would be open to traffic.

Technical Memorandums

The Lafayette Regional Xpressway study has been under way since 2004. Technical reports have been completed during various stages of the project and are available for review. Click on the document to download a PDF file of the complete report.

June 2016

Level 1 Traffic and Revenue Study was public for the LRX project.

July 2013

Project Newsletter was created

July 2010

Presentation to the Lafayette MPO - Transportation Policy Committee

October 2009

Amended Notice of Intent was filed with the Federal Register to update the name of the project and add the LA DOTD as a Joint Lead Agency.

August 2006

Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement Status Report is a detailed summary of the public outreach and agency involvement meetings, events and activities that have been conducted as of August 2006.

December 2005

Notice of Intent filed with the Federal Register advising the public that a Tier 1 EIS will be prepared for a proposed toll highway facility in the vicinity of Lafayette, LA.

June 2005

Feasibility Study Executive Summary-Implementation Plan summarizes previous study findings and presents an implementation plan for consideration by the LMEC in conjunction with other components of government.

May 2005

Toll Road Engineering & Environmental Reconnaissance is an addendum to Technical Memorandums 1 and 4 and details three additional corridor alternatives for Phase A of the Feasibility Study.

Public Involvement Technical Memorandum 5 documents the public involvement efforts associated with the Feasibility Study.

Financing Technical Memorandum 3 is a financial assessment intended to provide a general indication of the amount of capital funding that could be provided from toll financing for the project under the toll collection and governance assumptions of the study.

February 2005

Environmental Reconnaissance Technical Memorandum 4 addresses the human and natural environmental conditions that could potentially be affected by three of the corridor alternatives; and is intended to provide a broad summary and description of the natural, cultural, community resources, land uses and environmental factors that exist.

Traffic & Toll Technical Memorandum 2 provides a summary of the tolling system, traffic and toll revenue estimates, analysis of how traffic will operate and economic development. This report uses one of the corridor alternatives to further explore these concepts.

Toll Road Engineering Technical Memorandum 1 is a feasibility study documenting the selection of alternative corridors. This technical report also includes a design features section with the design elements that were used to develop preliminary cost estimates for roadway and toll equipment construction and toll road operation and maintenance.

WHAT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT?

The United States Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 United States Code 4321-4347, (NEPA) in 1969 to establish a national policy for consideration and communication of impacts to the environment from actions of the federal government. NEPA also established the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and tasked the CEQ with promulgating regulations implementing the Act, including identification of the types of federal actions subject to analysis and the types of analyses required. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is one of three classes of analyses, and is for those actions that have the potential to significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

An EIS is a full disclosure document that details the process through which a project was developed, includes consideration of a range of reasonable alternatives, analyzes the potential impacts resulting from the alternatives, and demonstrates compliance with other applicable environmental laws and executive orders. The EIS process is completed in the following ordered steps: notice of intent (NOI), draft EIS, final EIS, and record of decision (ROD).

NEPA requires agencies that will receive federal funding for their projects, in this case the Lafayette Metropolitan Expressway Commission (LMEC), to prepare environmental impact statements (EIS’s) for major actions such as the Lafayette Regional Xpressway (LRX) that significantly affect the quality of the human environment prior to executing the action. Communication of the impacts to the public and solicitation of input and comment on the impacts are also required. NEPA requires the agency to include consideration of the environmental impacts and the comments received from the public and other stakeholders in the action eventually taken. In order to ensure opportunities to achieve the purpose of the action and minimize impacts to the environment, NEPA requires consideration of reasonable alternatives to achieve the goal of the action. Where impacts to the environmental cannot be avoided, measures to reduce or mitigate the environmental impacts are required.

Documentation (along with dissemination) is an essential component of the NEPA project development process, which supports and complements public involvement and interagency coordination. NEPA requires that agencies disclose the results of their analysis and the effects of project implementation on the environment and solicit comments on the proposals from interested and affected parties. The purpose of documenting the NEPA process provides for complete disclosure to the public; allows others an opportunity to provide input and comment on proposals, alternatives, and environmental impacts; and provides the appropriate information for the decisionmaker to make a reasoned choice among alternatives.

WHAT IS TIERING?

The environmental evaluation for the LRX is being conducted using a tiered approach. Tiering is often used for complex projects because it allows planner to conduct analysis and decision-making in a phased fashion – from broader to narrower focus. This allows for evaluation on issues that are most critical for a particular stage of the process.

For the LRX project, the Tier 1 EIS will examine the five corridor alternatives for the loop facility, southern corridor alternatives: Inner, Middle and Outer, and northern corridor alternatives: Common 1, Common 2, and analyze the potential impacts. The selected corridor alternatives will be identified in the Tier 1 EIS as the preferred LRX corridor and documented in a ROD. A map with the corridors under study can be found here.

The LRX Tier 2 EIS will focus on alignments and facilities within the preferred LRX corridor to develop refined project details and potential impacts. The Tier 2 EIS will identify a preferred alternative alignment and facility design within the LRX corridor. The preferred alternative alignment will be documented in a ROD.