Much of the time we're ready to hit the highway hoping for the roads to ourselves. Usually we end up in traffic on a beat up road. If there's one thing we love to complain about, it's traffic, and we really love to rant about our roads. COVID relief money is headed our way, and may help to get Louisiana moving again.
According to Monique Boulet, the CEO of the Acadiana Planning Commission, Louisiana will benefit! Boulet says, "There are several different packages coming down from Washington that will really infuse a lot of money into our local infrastructure."
The President recently traveling to Louisiana, a state with a grade of "D-" on infrastructure, but also hammered by recent natural disasters. And there are big projects that could be impacted. Boulet adds, "We have a couple of very large mega projects that would probably take priority, like the bridge in Lake Charles, the connector here in Lafayette, and the Baton Rouge Bridge".
But there is money that's been approved for smaller projects that will make big impacts. Take eight million dollars that will be used in Opelousas, specifically along US 190, a major thoroughfare.
Julius Alsandor, the Mayor of Opelousas says this money will be used to move utilities for future projects. "This will move our utilities, open up drainage and get rid of some of the flooding because of the conditions of the road on that end."
And some of this flooding occurs on a normal moderate rain. Mayor Julius Alsandor also saying the city has been hoping from help from the state for decades. "That's where the utilities are running. Down the main part of the road. If you don't fix the subsurface, you can't change the problem of what's causing the roads to go bad.."
These improvements won't just affect drivers, residents will see the benefits too. "Moving these utilities will allow us to give better service that are here in Opelousas.", adds Alsandor.
Most of the time, federal money needs to be matched with state funds to make up the difference. Even if the feds cover 100%, the state will still need tax income to preserve the roads. Boulet adds, "Chances are we need to look at our tax structure to see how we pay for maintenance and upkeep so that if we get a lot of new infrastructure we're able to maintain it."
The improvements to the main road in Opelousas can spread to other areas of the city and parish to make it better. But the Mayor is also excited to see the President ready to get this backlog taken care of. Alsandor says, "I'm really excited to get these improvements and get things moving forward!"