Legislation that would reshape and reorganize the Lafayette Metropolitan Expressway Commission has made it through the House and is now pending initial action on the Senate side. Local officials hope the change will serve as a catalyst to moving along the developing I-49 project, investigating funding sources like tolls and bringing in more stakeholders.

House Bill 684 by Rep. Jack Montoucet, D-Crowley, would rename the existing commission to the Regional Expressway Commission. The group is currently made up of Lafayette Parish representatives, but Montoucet’s bill would fold in folks from Iberia Parish. He says the neighboring parish will be needed in upcoming planning and development efforts due to the project’s footprint. “It’s needed because a loop could be constructed that crosses into Iberia Parish,” Montoucet says.

Under Montoucet’s bill, two members each come from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce; and one member each is appointed by the city/parish president of Lafayette, Lafayette City-Parish Council and one of the local mayors in an incorporated municipality of the parish.

The big losers would be the state Department of Transportation and Development and UL, which would both lose one seat each and be confined to one appointment each. Their second picks would instead go to the governing authorities of Iberia Parish and the city of New Iberia.

HB 684 will next be heard by the Senate Committee on Local and Municipal Affairs.

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