Jim Beam column: No surprises in the road report – American Press

Those who drive and ride vehicles anywhere in Louisiana know that the state’s roads and bridges do not meet most road standards. That’s because the state has a $ 15 billion backlog in road and bridge maintenance and needs an additional $ 15 billion for mega-projects like a new Interstate 10 bridge over the Calcasieu River.

Passage of the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill by Congress will help Louisiana solve some of its problems. However, don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. It remains to be seen how high the local bridge is on the state’s construction priority list, as Baton Rouge also needs a new billion-dollar I-10 bridge over the Mississippi River.

The Reason Foundation reported Thursday that Louisiana’s highway system ranks 35e in the country in terms of condition and overall profitability. Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank that has advised many state presidents, governors, and transportation departments on transportation issues.

The foundation’s annual highway report examines the condition of each state’s roadways and bridges, traffic fatalities, congestion delays, expense per mile, and administrative costs. He revealed that North Dakota, Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky and North Carolina have the most efficient road networks.

New Jersey, Rhode Island, Alaska, Hawaii and New York show the worst combination of road performance and profitability. So I guess we should be thankful that we escaped the lower rankings, but we don’t have much to brag about.

States with large populations and busy highways performed well in the overall ranking. Virginie was 2 years oldsd; Missouri, 3e; North Carolina, 5e; Georgia, 14 years olde; and Texas, 16e.

California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, and Rhode Island have 43 percent of urban primary mileage that is in poor condition. Alaska, Colorado, and Washington have 25 percent of rural interstate mileage in poor condition.

Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey spent more than $ 250,000 per highway lane-mile. Missouri, South Carolina, West Virginia, North Dakota, and South Dakota spent less than $ 30,000 per highway mile. Louisiana spends $ 41,800 per mile of state-controlled highway and is 15e in total spending per mile and 12e in capital and bridge costs per mile.

Louisiana lost four rankings from the foundation’s previous report when it placed 31st. He said the state’s pavement quality and the percentage of structurally deficient bridges are disproportionately poor and the main driver of its overall ranking.

“While not all freeways are pothole-free, Louisiana has twice as many poor urban interstate pavements as Arkansas and four times as many as Mississippi,” the foundation said.

When it comes to the quality of bridges, Louisiana has 1.5 times as many structurally deficient bridges as the Mississippi and four times as many as Arkansas. Foundation report says Louisiana ranks 43e in overall mortality rate, 45e in structurally deficient bridges, 39e in traffic jams, 49e in urban interstate roadway condition and 43e in the state of the rural interstate roadway.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration has done well with the limited transportation funds available, such as ongoing I-10 upgrades on the Texas state border and between Lafayette and the Weir of Atchafalaya.

How is Louisiana improving? The report says Louisiana could examine how Arkansas and Mississippi can get better highways and bridges at a cost equivalent to Louisiana.

The legislature devoted 60 percent of motor vehicle sales tax collections this year to the construction sub-fund of the Transportation Trust Fund. However, it will not produce any funds for roads and bridges until $ 148 million in 2023-24 and $ 296 million per year in 2024-25 and beyond.

Efforts to increase the gasoline tax by 20 cents per gallon have been unsuccessful. States with lower or equivalent gasoline taxes are Alaska, 14.7 cents per gallon; Missouri, 17.4 cents; Mississippi, 18.8 cents; New Mexico, 18.9 cents; Arizona, 19 cents; and Oklahoma and Texas, 20 cents each.

Gasoline taxes have been increased in 31 states since 2013. Five states have waited more than 30 years since their last gasoline tax increase. Alaska last increased its gasoline tax in 1970, Mississippi in 1989, Louisiana and Arizona in 1990 (31 years ago), and Colorado in 1991.

The law was passed earlier this year, and a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the state’s gasoline tax would ultimately produce $ 600 million per year, which would be a good start to improving our highway system. and bridges. However, we know that a gas tax hike is not going to happen, so don’t look too much for better roads and bridges anytime soon.

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