Agencies join for clean, attractive I-49 in St. Landry

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Main News Photo

The I-49 median in the heart of St. Landry Parish will be cleaner and brighter, and kept that way, as a result of a combined effort begun this month by the Central St. Landry Economic Development District (CSLEDD), the St. Landry Solid Waste Commission, and other agencies.      

CSLEDD, which was created to promote economic growth in the I-49 corridor, took over maintenance of the median between Harry Guilbeau Road and U.S. 190 some months ago. Among its first actions were replacement of downed light poles and upgrading the lighting at key intersections, providing regular litter pickup, and doubling the number of times the grass is cut each year.   

The new project builds upon that, as parish inmate crews overseen by the solid waste commission will begin more frequent and more substantial cleanups in the median and along the roadway. As a first step, they have begun clearing away accumulated rocks, sand, and other debris beneath the overpasses at Harry Guilbeau and Judson Walsh roads and at the U.S. 190 intersection, according to CSLEDD chairman Frank (Buddy) Helton.

“It makes a world of difference,” Helton said. It will also mean that routine maintenance will be easier and more thorough, he said.

The sheriff’s department, City of Opelousas, Opelousas police department, and state Department of Transportation are also participating in the effort, Helton said. Opelousas police are providing patrol cars to safeguard crews working on the roadsides and the DOT is helping to haul away the debris. 

Parish prison inmates volunteer for the litter abatement crews that are directed by the solid waste commission, according to Richard LeBoeuf, executive director.  The sheriff’s department provides the labor and the commission furnishes the vehicles that are used and pays the salary of a sheriff’s deputy that oversees the crews. The commission also has abatement programs with St. Landry Parish government and with several parish communities, LeBoeuf said. Three litter abatement crews are currently working in the parish. One is assigned strictly to St. Landry’s twelve municipalities on a rotation basis, one to state roads, and one to parish abatement. 

In addition to making the roadways better looking, CSLEDD has begun work to make important infrastructure upgrades that will make properties in the central I-49 corridor more attractive to potential business investors.

CSLEDD has also taken the lead in preparing a master plan to develop Evangeline Downs property at the I-49-U.S. 190 intersection into the Gateway to Acadiana. That project could bring development of 140,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, an events center, and a high-end RV park, among other amenities.

“The I-49 corridor is the transportation and economic backbone of the parish,” in the view of Bill Rodier, St. Landry economic development director. “Nothing but good can happen when agencies from across the spectrum of parish life work together to make it more attractive to our citizens that drive it daily and to investors seeking a place to bring new jobs.”

Three things to know about this story:

  • Inmate crews overseen by the St. Landry Solid Waste Commission will begin more frequent and more substantial cleanups in the I-49 median and along the roadway.
  • The sheriff’s department, City of Opelousas, Opelousas police department, and state Department of Transportation are also participating in the effort.
  • In addition to making the roadways better looking, CSLEDD has begun work to make important infrastructure upgrades in the central I-49 corridor.

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