Michot addresses Network at Noon
CROWLEY - Former state Sen. Mike Michot was in Crowley Wednesday to address the Crowley Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Network at Noon gathering.
Michot, who is currently serving as the director of the I-49 South Coalition, discussed the importance of the highway’s completion to the Acadiana area’s economy as well as the politics and red tape that is slowing its progress.
Prior to his presentation, Michot wanted to recognize the contributions of two prominent Crowley citizens, Ray Hensgens and Dr. John Bertrand, both of whom died recently. He also wanted to mention the recently announced partnership between Lafayette Health Group and Crowley’s American Legion Hospital and the positive effect he believes it will have on the area.
He then discussed the matter at hand.
“The recent widening of the Panama Canal means that there will be more cargo traffic on the I-10/I-12 corridor,” he said. “We need to create ways for traffic to flow more smoothly for the increase of cargo and supplies that this will bring. Trying to get funding for the completion of I-49 can be frustrating ... full of peaks and valleys.”
Michot mentioned mayors and other officials that represent their respective areas and how they are mainly concerned with their own parts of the project. He also stated that certain political personalities come into play. He used the ongoing feud between Lafayette Mayor Joey Durel and Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais as an example.
“If you get these two men in the same room, it’s hard to get them to agree on anything,” he said.
According to Michot, there is also competition with the group that promotes the progress of I-49 North that often hinders his efforts.
However, it seems that his coalition has a friend in Department of Transportation and Development leader Bill Fontenot.
“He has stated that the completion of I-49 South is his top priority,” said Michot.
Michot also said that people who travel from Lafayette to New Orleans who experience the congestion in Baton Rouge could see relief when the I-49 project is completed.
He then discussed the positive effect that I-49 South’s development could have on the area economy.
“This would certainly be in the best interest for the local and business leaders along I-40,” Michot said. “The oil and gas service sector and the seafood industry would see their businesses improve with the boost that this transportation would give their businesses.”
However, as Michot explained, such improvements come with a price.
“These people need to pay their dues to keep this project going,” he said. “The funding that goes to our project through gasoline taxes and the possibility of installing toll booths would go a long way to seeing this project completed. I want to see this issue kept on the front burner.
“People who are going to use this road for their benefit should be willing to pay a toll,” he added. “The businesses should be involved if they want an expressway through Lafayette. This is an issue that needs to be brought to the attention of every area political campaign and it affects the entire region. We will have a new governor in two years and who knows what that may bring.”