After years of discussion and debate from countless stakeholders, Louisiana is starting a new infrastructure project. Governor John Bel Edwards unveiled a $600 million plan to improve the state’s highways. Focusing on widening Interstate 10, this plan will be a boon to Hot Shot Trucking and other transportation companies that traverse the state.
Governor Edwards announced the plan on Friday, May 13th, claiming that it was “of the utmost importance for economic development and for convenience to the traveling public.” He drew attention to the “innovative funding mechanism” that officials had developed to pay for the improvements. The state will use GARVEE, or Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bonds, to cover most of the initial construction costs. They will then pay off these bonds using Federal infrastructure aid over the next 12 years. Municipal and county governments will also chip in, with significant funding coming from the City of New Orleans and from East Baton Rouge Parish. In this way, the state should be able to complete the project without straining its budget.
A Long-Awaited Infrastructure Initiative
Louisianians have been discussing improvements to Interstate 10, and infrastructure investments in general, for years. Businesses and individuals in Baton Rouge and other nearby communities have long complained about the highway, especially the portion of between the I-10/12 divide and the Mississippi River bridge. Widening and fixing the road, they feel, would be of great benefit to trucking companies and the economy as a whole.
Yet even as some have insisted on infrastructure improvements, others have vigorously opposed it. Companies operating in the Perkins Road Overpass have fought proposals to widen the 10, fearing the resulting disruption to business. Combined with a lack of funding, this has stymied past attempts to improve the road.
The current infrastructure plan does not fully address the aforementioned concerns, and future trucking news will likely feature complaints over it. But the project has nonetheless attracted a large and bipartisan pool of supporters. Among those promoting it are Democrats like Edwards and New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, as well as Republicans like Senate Transportation Chairman Page Cortez and House Transportation Chairman Kenny Havard. With buy-in from both parties, the infrastructure plan is more likely to withstand criticism and gain popular support.
If successful, this project will be an important step toward shoring up Louisiana’s highways. The state currently has a backlog of $13 billion for road and bridge construction. The current plan could serve as a model for these other infrastructure proposals, showing officials how to earn broad, bipartisan support and make the investments necessary for success.
Besides widening Interstate 10, the current plan will provide a number of other enhancements. These include improving road access to Barksdale Air Force Base, as well as replacing the interchange that connects the Interstate to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Taking advantage of detailed industry trucking data, these plans should address some of the most serious shortcomings in Louisiana’s infrastructure and bolster the economy statewide.
For more information on new infrastructure projects and all other trucking reports, contact Hot Shot Trucking today.