While business leaders in the community say the freeway would connect the city to the economic hubs of Louisiana, Ms Wiley fears it could displace her church and neighbors.
âLooking at where I live right now, it’s like they want to push us further and, well, that’s going to gentrify the community,â said Ms. Wiley, president of an anti-development organization. “I hope it won’t be the same, but I have a feeling it will.”
Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation, said he is weighing Ms Wiley’s concerns, as well as the views of members of the business community who say the project will link Allendale to other cities of Louisiana and neighboring states, generating millions in economic value for communities.
Mr Wilson, who was recently elected president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, a non-profit organization representing the state’s transportation departments, has yet to make a decision on how the state should proceed.
But he said the federal government had informed him that Louisiana’s chances of getting money from the discretionary fund would depend on whether the state’s plans took into account racial equity and the climate change. This discretionary money, he said, would be needed to complete any expansion.
Mr Wilson said the views of the local community will be paramount.
âWe will ask them to live with this infrastructure. We will ask them to invest local dollars in this infrastructure, âhe said. âAnd if we don’t do it right, they will have to deal with the consequences of this infrastructure. “
Federal officials say there are provisions to encourage states to consider fairness. Transportation department officials worked with the Home Policy Council, headed by Susan Rice, who heads the president’s racial equity initiative, to reach out to local governments to implement the infrastructure package.