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'Acadiana Day' Encourages Lawmakers to Support Change to Acadiana Region

BATON ROUGE, La. -

It's Acadiana day at the state capitol and local groups are joining forces in support of the I-49 connector project.

One Acadiana and other local groups met with lawmakers Monday in hopes of getting money for the project. The project may come with a hefty price tag for Louisiana residents.

One Acadiana is lobbying for improvements to Acadiana's highways. The biggest improvement they want is the completion of I-49 south.

"It's crucial that we have good highways that we can move commerce up and down those venues," Ronnie Petree Sr. Vice President of St. Martin Bank and Board member of One Acadiana said.  

However, those improvements need funding. The state currently does not have the funding to help with the mega project. 

The I-49 south project could cost up to $700 million to complete. That's why One Acadiana is asking lawmakers to support Governor Edwards' proposed gasoline tax increase to fund road projects.     

"It would be a 17 cents per gallon and it would raise about $500 million in revenue for the state," said chamber chairman Frank Neuner. 

He added, "If we don't do this, we won't be in a position to match the federal money that the Trump administration is promising to send to the state's infrastructure improvement. We need this revenue source. This is our last fiscal sessions for several years. Two years it's an election year , and no one votes for taxes on election year so we're anxious to get this through."

That tax proposal will get its first test tomorrow when the house Ways and Means Committee votes on it. Some local business leaders say the tax is the only hope for I-49 to be completed.

"We're encouraging our Acadiana delegation and Louisiana legislators to vote in favor of a gasoline tax or else we will never see improvements on I49 south or connector through Lafayette," Neuner said. 

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