Friday, June 17, 2005

Ruminations on I-49

There's progress on funding for I-49 without raising taxes. More here and here. That's good news. But is Louisiana – particularly NWLA -- doing all it can to promote the project? Consider this: Fort Smith, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce has a website dedicated to completion of north-south I-49 in Arkansas. But look what happens to I-49 at the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas state line. I-49 into Louisiana is not (yet) a sure thing. This raises the question: Is there a Louisiana chamber of commerce with a comprehensive, online I-49 promotion campaign? None that I could find. Shreveport-Bossier is the largest metro area close to the Arkansas border on the proposed I-49 route. It's thus a little surprising the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce has no information about I-49 posted on the public access portion of its website. Shreveport-Bossier is likely to see “enormous growth” if I-49 is completed. This map illustrates the potential. (And that doesn't even begin to consider the benefits when I-69 is figured in). But where’s the ongoing, online show of city-funded, business community public support for completion of Interstate 49? Anyone anywhere across the country seeking evidence of Louisiana’s commitment to the completion I-49 will be hard-pressed to find it online. Completing I-49 will take more than repeating the mantra "it’s a priority" combined with annual requests for federal and state money. A signficant online commitment to the project would be great first step. In fact, the Shreveport chamber recently advertised a forum on blogging. I-49 would be a great topic for a new blog...