Feb 8, 2012 11:07 PM by Shawn Kline

Louisiana down the road: DOTD reviews projects

"There is not more being done with less," St. Landry Parish President Bill Fontenot said about state highways. "We need to have full disclosure with the public that we need more resources for transportation."

Bill Fontenot is a former DOTD District Engineer and now, the St. Landry Parish President.
All 64 Louisiana Parishes have road repairs and improvements that need to be done, but DOTD only has about $700-million to work with.

Local leaders met with state legislators to get the ball rolling on some of these projects in Acadiana, now piling up at the capitol. But is the money there?
The top priority is completing an expensive I-49.

The state coffers have been open for some time on the project, chipping away from St. Mary Parish up to Iberia Parish- eliminating nearly all stops on the way.

"They are trying to build an overpass for Ambassador Caffery extension and we're thinking while they're trying to do that one, it just makes sense to do ours as well," St. Martin Parish President Guy Cormier said.

Cormier feels his stretch of the highway is getting slighted. The section in Iberia Parish is nearly complete and the next portion covers Lafayette, skipping right over St. Martin Parish.

"Why not just finish it from Broussard all the way to St. Mary parish?" Cormier asked.

Local government continues to stress the importance of completing I-49 through Acadiana but other major projects like service roads are gathering some momentum. For example, there are no service roads off I-10 in Lafayette.

"The Metropolitan Planning Organization in this area has approved a study of what I-10 Frontage Road should be like," Lafayette Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux said.

Completing I-49 would cost about $5-billion. That may likely take years to cover. Boudreaux says I-10 service roads are much more affordable and can be used immediately but the state's budget may not even have room for that.

"This state can do it," Fontenot said.

According to him, every parish can address some of their needs by increasing the state gas tax.

"It would add to the system." He says, "improve the system to a degree that people have not seen in many years."

The last time the state changed its gas tax was in 1984. The price per gallon then? $1.21.

Until the state can dedicate more money to its highways, DOTD has a long list of projects and just $700-million to use (and every year, the list gets longer).



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