University Avenue Corridor Study and Roadway Improvement Project Recognized for Advances in Nondiscrimination with National Award

12 May 2022

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Acadiana Planning Commission (APC)
Angela Cring

University Avenue Corridor Study and Roadway Improvement Project Recognized for Advances in Nondiscrimination with National Award

Lafayette, Louisiana: Acadiana Planning Commission’s (APC) Metropolitan Planning Organization has been selected as a recipient of the 2022 Environmental Excellence Award by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for the University Avenue Corridor Study and Roadway Improvement Project.

The Environmental Excellence Awards recognize leaders across the country who make outstanding contributions to environmental stewardship and partnerships above and beyond traditional transportation project outcomes. The winning projects and programs exemplify FHWA’s priorities of climate change and sustainability, equity and environmental justice, complete streets, economic strength, and safety for all road users. The University Avenue Corridor Project was awarded in the Demonstrated Advances in Nondiscrimination category. FHWA will recognize award recipients at an award ceremony in-person at the AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability 2022 Annual Meeting from July 11th – 13th, 2022, in Austin, Texas.

In 2016, Lafayette Consolidated Government partnered with the APC to conduct a corridor study along University Avenue utilizing federal transportation funding. In conducting this work, the project team actively engaged minority communities to address injustices of the past and decades of neglect and envision a new transportation facility that would provide safe and equitable access for community members while serving as a catalyst for $32 million in commercial redevelopment.

“The University Ave Corridor Study was built with extensive community engagement that continues today. The study was the first step in what today is active community and economic revitalization as well as a $30 million roadway investment project,” stated Monique Boulet, APC’s CEO The project team conducted public involvement as the first action and went beyond the traditional public engagement process of standard public meetings to display project information. The public led the conversation with the consultants on the expected goals and results of the roadway improvements, and APC worked to document and harness the history of the Four Corners neighborhood by engaging in intergenerational community visioning. APC staff used a technique called PhotoVoice to gather stories from elder residents, interview younger residents, and together create a vision for future redevelopment. The public were able to determine the improvements of the roadway by utilizing the data collection and studies from the consultant to decide the best solution for their area.

University Avenue Community Engagement MeetingThe corridor plan has resulted in millions of dollars in federal funding to improve the roadway and attract business investments, including mixed income housing and retail facilities, ultimately improving the livability and economic opportunity of the corridor for its residents. Boulet says, “the economic investment has increased commercial activity and afforded expanded economic opportunities for the area that did not exist five years ago.”

Also being recognized as Project Partners are Lafayette Consolidated Government and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, District Three; CSRS, Inc. Project Contributors are HRI; Bridge Ministries; and Lafayette Utility Systems

About APC  The APC serves the public sector with the planning and implementation of Community, Economic, and Transportation Development throughout the seven-parish Acadiana region.