Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)

Shift Happens

Sep 4, 2017
LA DOTD

A crucial part of recovery from Harvey involves making sure southwest Louisiana’s roads and bridges are safe for travel.

“We’ve got closures because of washouts on our system, and bridges that -- after any event like this -- we have to inspect,” says DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson.


Wallis Watkins

Louisiana's backlog of needed roadwork is $13 billion. But now the House is looking to tap the Transportation Trust Fund in order to help pay down state debt. 

@LouisianaGov

Governor John Bel Edwards and state DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson were in Lafayette Wednesday, then Baton Rouge Thursday, touting receipt of $60-million in federal FAST Act funds for highway work.


Frank Barnett

“The only hole we’re going to fill with new dollars in transportation is a pothole,” Shawn Wilson, Governor-elect John Bel Edwards’ pick for state Transportation Secretary told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Wilson made it clear that the $12-billion backlog in roadwork means money dedicated to transportation infrastructure can no longer be siphoned off for other uses. He also said reducing the backlog is going to require a hike in fuel taxes.

Louisiana’s $1.6-billion budget hole is doing nothing to help with the state’s $14-billion backlog of road and bridge projects.

“We kicked the can down the road, but we lost it in a pothole. And we can’t get the can out,” says House Transportation chair Karen St. Germain.

So she offered two tax-raising measures to solve the problem. One, HB 778, increases the state’s sales tax by a penny. The other, HB 777, ups the tax on fuel, gasoline and diesel, by ten cents per gallon.

The House Appropriations Committee continues to take testimony on the governor’s budget proposal this week, but something isn’t adding up. When DOTD came to the table Tuesday, Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin started questioning purported savings from the disappearance of 33 jobs.

State plans to shut down the low-cost bus from Baton Rouge to New Orleans may harm economic ties between the cities.

According to a survey released Wednesday by The Center for Planning Excellence, more than half of LA Swift riders use the service to get to and from work.

The state legislature approved $325 million dollars worth of  road improvement projects for rural areas of the state  last year. The projects are slated to be completed over a three year span. The Department of Transportation announced on Friday evening that they’ll borrow the money in chunks, instead of all at once, as planned. Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said in a statement that’s to relieve the state budget of baring the three-year fiscal load in one year.

But State Treasurer John Kennedy said borrowing money in stages doesn’t make financial sense.