AASHTO Journal, 14 August 2015
An organization of current and former transportation officials in Louisiana is calling for a 10-cent increase in the state’s per-gallon motor fuel excise fee to help pay for needed infrastructure improvements, and asking candidates for governor to back the effort.
The Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association said in a new “white paper” that increasing the state’s motor fuel tax to 30 cents a gallon from 20 cents now would raise $250 million to $280 million a year that could be dedicated to transportation projects and help tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog of needed work.
“Louisiana’s transportation infrastructure no longer meets the economic, mobility and safety needs of its citizens because of systemic funding problems,” the group said. “The willingness of gubernatorial and legislative candidates to honestly address these issues in the 2015 elections and take decisive and positive action will determine the future of our transportation system for decades to come.”
That association’s leadership includes former officials with the Federal Highway Administration and with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, along with officials from industry groups.
Its action comes as the state moves toward a major Oct. 24 election for its Legislature and executive officers including the next governor. The ballot also includes proposals to shift mineral royalties to transportation needs and to fund an infrastructure bank.
The Times-Picayune reported Aug. 10 that the advocacy group also “called on the four major gubernatorial candidates to release details about their plans for fixing roads and bridges ahead of the election.”
Separately, the state’s legislative auditor issued a report this month that said revenues coming into the Transportation Trust Fund “may not be sufficient to address the transportation infrastructure needs of the state without additional or increased revenue sources and/or changes to the allocation of TTF funds.”
That audit also cited another report showing Louisiana ranked “48th of 50 states on the condition of urban interstates and is listed as one of only six states that account for 49.5 percent of the poor-condition urban interstate mileage.”
It added that while future TTF receipts from the current funding is projected to rise slightly, “this increase will not be able to compensate for the backlog of infrastructure projects, nor keep up with inflation and the ever-increasing construction costs.”
The auditor wrote that while Louisiana’s gasoline and diesel taxes are well below the national average they are closely aligned with those of neighboring states.
That report listed other potential revenue options to pay for transportation needs including fees for vehicle miles traveled, tolling, public-private partnerships, federal loans, various types of bonds and noted that a proposed 1 percent state sales tax to be directed to road and bridge projects failed to pass the legislature this year.