Transportation advisers: Roads need funding

Trucking industry executive Greg Morrison of Shreveport co-chaired Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' transition transportation committee. (Photo: John Ballance / COURTESY PHOTO)

BATON ROUGE — Maintaining Louisiana’s roads and building new infrastructure is possible. All the state needs is money.

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards’ transition transportation committee completed its report to Edwards, whose team released it Monday.

Committee Chairman Greg Morrison, a trucking executive from Shreveport, said the committee brainstormed ways to capture or create revenue streams for maintenance and construction during its five meetings.

“We put everything on the table, even the things that would make some of us uncomfortable,” said Morrison, who gave as an example the possibility of tolls, which he said carriers generally oppose.

“We had to put aside our parochial interests for the overall good of the state, and that’s what we did,” said Morrison, whose co-chair was Rochelle Dugas of Lafayette.

The committee sought to find ways to keep the Transportation Trust Fund from being raided for other uses, address the state’s $12.7 billion backlog of maintenance on existing projects, secure more federal funding and increase the amount of infrastructure funding from the state construction budget.

Edwards will have great control over the Capital Outlay budget and keeping the Transportation Trust Fund intact, but that won’t touch the $12.7 billion backlog.

Among the suggestions from the committee: possible increases in the gas tax, sales tax, vehicle registration fees, tolls and a oil and gas processing tax.

“We’re not saying any one of these is the answer, but we wanted to provide as many options as possible,” Morrison said.

“Our roads, bridges and ports are critical economic drivers in our state,” Edwards said in a press release. ”If we want to be competitive and produce more jobs for Louisianans, we must face our infrastructure problem with the urgency and funding mechanisms required.”

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