Louisiana governor proposes expedited road work plan

| 12/23/2009

Gov. Bobby Jindal has a plan to inject millions of dollars into a dozen highway projects around Louisiana.

The governor wants to use $120 million available to the state to speed up planned road and bridge work that isn’t set to begin for a few more years. Revenue will be plucked from undesignated portions of state transportation money for projects, such as $17 million for work on Interstate 49 in St. Landry Parish and $15 million on Interstate 55 in Tangipahoa.

The Jindal administration is targeting $40 million in unspent funds from the 2008 fiscal year, and another $40 million from 2009 to help get work done.

The Louisiana Legislature must sign off on the second part of the plan. The 2010 regular session begins in March.

Another $40 million would come via “seed” money that had been pegged for other capital projects. In addition, the federal government will chip in during later years by reimbursing the state for part of the spending.

The governor is touting the initiative’s multiple benefits, which include creating jobs and improving infrastructure.

Jindal said the state can also take advantage of some lower prices for highway contracting work.

“This new cash flow plan also allows the state to take advantage of favorable prices and bids that have been consistently low over the past several months,” Jindal said in a statement.

William Ankner, secretary for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, has said the spending plan will allow the state to get some much-needed work done while talks continue on how to address long-term needs. Louisiana is coping with a $12.6 billion road and bridge backlog.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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