Effort to privatize toll roads in Louisiana heads to governor

| 5/26/2006

The Louisiana Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday, May 25, that would allow the state to partner with private groups to build toll roads and bridges.

Sponsored by Rep. Roy Quezaire, D-Donaldsonville, the measure now heads to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s desk for her signature. The House approved the bill 98-3 on May 10.

The bill initially applied to projects – dubbed “megaprojects” – that cost at least $250 million, The Times-Picayune reported. However, the threshold was later withdrawn.

Affected projects could include the expansion of Interstate 10 or the completion of the southern leg of Interstate 49 from Lafayette to the West Ban Expressway in New Orleans.

The bill – HB1294 – would authorize the Louisiana Transportation Authority to work out details with private groups to build roads, bridges or expand an existing facility, The Times-Picayune reported. The private business would keep toll revenue in exchange for upkeep.

Any state project proposed by a private contractor would go before the House and Senate transportation panels for a review hearing. However, lawmakers couldn’t reject proposed deals.