The News Star, Monroe, La.: Twelve billion dollars. That’s how much the state needs just to catch up on its backlog of highway construction and maintenance projects.
Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, who chaired a recent discussion on highway financing said plainly, “we have no money.”
According to a recent report by Gannett Capital Bureau reporter Mike Hasten, members of the House and Senate Joint Transportation Committee discovered that legislators have approved ways to use the Transportation Trust Fund for purposes other than funding highway building and maintenance.
Funds have been siphoned off to pay for retirement benefits and interest on highway construction bonds. This year, about 10 percent has been used to help balance the state’s budget.
And that $12 billion figure doesn’t even take into account new highway projects that are needed in the state, which would bring the backlog to $15 billion.
Small wonder Louisiana’s highways are consistently ranked low in national safety ratings.