WASHINGTON (KTAL/KMSS) – U.S. Representative Mike Johnson released a statement Tuesday after House Democrats blocked his amendment to federal highway legislation that would require the Secretary of Transportation to accelerate the environmental review process for the I-49 Inner-City Connector (ICC) project in Shreveport.
According to a news release, Johnson introduced the amendment in an effort to address continued delays in the environmental review process which have stalled the project from moving forward.
Eight years into the environmental review process, Louisianians are still waiting on the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments and the state to produce a draft environmental impact study (EIS), and they have recently indicated one will not be completed until mid-2021 at the earliest. According to the Council on Environmental Quality, the average federal highway project takes four years to produce a draft EIS and just over seven years to complete the entire environmental review process.
On June 15, Congressman Johnson and local leaders in Northwest Louisiana sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana DOT Secretary Shawn Wilson, Louisiana Division Administrator Wes Bollinger, Providence Engineering Interim CEO Rich Major, and Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments Executive Director Kent Rogers calling to finish I-49 Inner-City Connector Project (ICC) in Shreveport. The letter highlights concerns with the continued delays in the environmental review process, and calls on state leaders to ensure the project’s EIS is completed quickly and correctly.
Johnson’s amendment would have simply called on the Department of Transportation to ensure the review is completed timely without undermining applicable environmental laws or opportunities for public engagement.
“It’s outrageous that the environmental review process for the I-49 Inner-City Connector has already taken 8 years to complete–double the average time–and it is still nowhere close to being finished,” Representative Mike Johnson said Tuesday.
“This is an ideal project to facilitate the recovery and growth of Northwest Louisiana, particularly in a time when we so desperately need it. Unfortunately, House Democrats blocked this important amendment and prevented a vote on the floor. We will not give up, and I will continue to fight for this project and the bests interests of all the people of our state.”