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Project Overview - Why A New Highway?  


Why a new highway – I-69 and Sections of Independent Utility

In the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Congress designated certain highway corridors of national significance be included in the National Highway System. Twenty-one "high-priority" corridors were so designated, mainly in regions that are not well served by the existing Interstate Highway System. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) combined two of these corridors (Corridor 18 and Corridor 20) and officially designated them as Interstate 69 (I-69).

Interstate 69 is a 1,600 mile-long national highway that will ultimately connect Canada to Mexico. I-69 traverses nine states from the Gulf of Mexico and Texas’s Golden Triangle, through the Mississippi Delta, the Midwest, to the industrial north and, finally, to Canada. The I-69 Corridor refers to the general location of the highway as defined by legislation with the stipulation that specific route locations must be determined through additional route location and environmental screening processes.

The purpose of the I-69 Corridor is to improve international and interstate trade in accordance with national and state goals; facilitate economic development in accordance with state, regional, and local policies; and extend the Interstate Highway System consistent with national, state, regional, and local needs.

With a total length of over 1,600 miles, I-69 will take many years to complete. This length precludes development of the full corridor as a single construction project. Furthermore, the work to be undertaken varies along the route and includes widening, reconstruction, and relocation of existing roadways to development of an entirely new highway on new location.

The practical approach is to undertake a series of projects which all fit into and are consistent with the overall purpose and need for I-69. In order to approach this in a reasonable manner, the entire corridor was divided into viable sections, each addressing state and local needs, schedules and funding constraints. Each of these sections is referred to as a Section of Independent Utility (SIU). A given SIU may be in place for several years before an adjacent section is completed and open to traffic. Hence the concept of having independent utility.

Section of Independent Utility 15 (SIU 15)

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is conducting an environmental and location study to construct a section of the I–69, known nationally as SIU 15. The project would provide a divided, four-lane, limited access highway on new location between US Highway 171 (US 171) near the Town of Stonewall in DeSoto Parish, and Interstate Highway 20 (I–20) near the Town of Haughton in Bossier Parish, a distance of approximately 35 miles. The project Study Area encompasses portions of Bossier, Caddo, and DeSoto Parishes.

The DOTD has retained a Consultant Team lead by Michael Baker Jr., Inc. (Baker) to conduct this study.

Study Process

Social, economic, environmental, and engineering studies are being conducted to identify the proposed highway location. A multi-step Study Process adopted for the project allows for the examination of a full range of alternatives at both the corridor and alignment levels, with increasing detail as the study progresses. This enables alternatives to be evaluated at several stages so that only the most practicable, those that meet the project purpose and need and that have the potential to minimize environmental impacts, are advanced for further study.

Public outreach meetings will be held throughout the Study Process to inform the public of project developments and to solicit public comment. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), fully disclosing the project's beneficial and adverse effects will be prepared and circulated for public review. Two public hearings will also be held to present the EIS.

    
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   Updated:  07/22/03  
 

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  State Project No. 700-94-0003
  F.A.P. No. HPI-69-1(001)

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