Louisiana has the 14th-largest highway system in the country, and only six states spend more money per mile on building, maintaining and improving roads than the Pelican State. Despite this investment, Louisiana has some of the country’s worst transportation infrastructure according to a report released by the Reason Foundation in November 2021. The think tank ranked Louisiana 49th in the country for interstate conditions and 45th in the country for structurally deficient bridges. The report was released shortly after lawmakers in Louisiana passed a bill that increased road and bridge spending by $300 million per year.
Structurally deficient bridges
The additional road and bridge spending will be funded by sales taxes collected on new and used car and truck purchases. This money was previously placed in Louisiana’s general revenue fund. Improving structurally deficient bridges has been made a priority. Louisiana spends about the same on transportation infrastructure as neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi, but its bridges are in far worse shape. According to the Reason Foundation report, Louisiana has four times as many structurally deficient bridges as Arkansas and almost twice as many neglected bridges as Mississippi.
Poor roads cause accidents
Motorists who drive on poorly maintained roads are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Rutted, potholed or uneven road surfaces provide less grip, which lengthens braking distances and makes evasive maneuvers more difficult. The Reason Foundation report criticized Louisiana’s pavement quality, and an independent study of Federal Highway Administration data gave the Pelican State a score of 1.16 out of 10 for road quality. This may explain why Louisiana has one of the highest road fatality rates in the country.
Crumbling infrastructure and neglected roads cause more than accidents. They make transporting goods more difficult and more expensive, which leads to lower tax revenues and widening budget deficits. Allocating money for infrastructure improvements is an investment that pays for itself. Roads that are properly maintained are safer to drive on, and making needed repairs in a timely manner is far less expensive than waiting until pavement reaches its breaking point.