Another public hearing on the route of Interstate 49 through St. Charles Parish is set for Nov. 16 at the Alario Center in Westwego, from 4 p.m. until 8. Itís perhaps the last hearing before a definite decision on it will be made.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has preferred a route that would skirt through populated areas of the west bank, providing a barrier that does not make for a good community. We have favored a more southern route which would partially go through the wetlands where it would not disturb human activities so much.
The Corps claims, however, that the southern route would disturb wildlife. Frankly, we donít think wildlife would suffer that much. Interstates 10 and 310 go through wetlands on the east bank and they do not seem to have damaged those natural habitats.
As offshore oil production grows in the Gulf of Mexico, heavy truck traffic will increase on U.S. 90 and, when completed, I-49 via La. 1 from Fourchon, where much of the commercial activity servicing it is based.
Likewise, if more port activity develops along the lower Mississippi River, as has been projected, much more heavy traffic could evolve to go east and west on U.S. 90 and I-49 from La. 23 and 39 along the river.
Doesnít it make sense not to channel this traffic through populated areas when it would be easier for it to use an interstate highway to the south of us?
We feel most of the people who live on the west bank of St. Charles Parish would agree. We should not steer heavier traffic expected in the future through our residential and business areas.
We hope the corps reconsiders its preferences and respects the wishes of the people.