Louisiana Engineers Embarrassed by Condition of State Roads, Bridges

May 2, 2017

Louisiana civil engineers have graded the state’s roads and bridges, and they claimed the results were “embarrassing.”

The Advocate reports that roads were given a D grade and bridges a D-plus in the report card from the Louisiana chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“We are here because, for the last five years, Louisiana has ignored the signs and failed to take the necessary steps to reverse the course,” Kam Movassaghi, a former Louisiana transportation secretary and executive director of the study, said in a statement.

The report card looked at the state of Louisiana’s roads, bridges, aviation, dams and seven other areas. It gave state infrastructure an overall grade of D-plus.

The grades are mostly unchanged since the same group issued a similar report in 2012. The earlier study sparked little response from the Legislature.

“There is no plan,” Movassaghi told reporters. “We are piecemealing it.”

The study was released during a legislative session in which there are several proposals to boost the state gasoline tax to finance road and bridge improvements and address a $13 billion backlog of transportation work. A panel named by Gov. John Bel Edwards recommended a $700 million increase in annual transportation spending, mostly through a gas tax hike.

“We have not invested the way we should have for infrastructure,” said Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, who attended the press conference.

But so far, none of the key transportation financing bills has received a hearing, and the bills face tough hurdles to passage.

The report said road spending is inadequate to ensure federal matching dollars and to finance maintenance and improvements. It said 13 percent of bridges are structurally deficient, with problems that require attention, and 44 percent are functionally obsolete, failing to meet current safety standards.

The report was done by 50 volunteer civil engineers, who spent 18 months analyzing and grading 11 infrastructure areas.

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