Louisiana celebrates 60th Anniversary of U.S. Interstate Highway System
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 12:26:32 PM

BATON ROUGE -- As the nation celebrates 60 years since President Eisenhower embarked on the Interstate system, a new report by TRIP, a national transportation research group, outlines the need for improvements to the nationwide transportation system. The report, “The Interstate Highway System Turns 60: Challenges to Its Ability to Continue to Save Lives, Time and Money,” also notes that Louisiana and Nevada lead the nation in the increase in Interstate vehicle miles traveled from 2000 to 2014, with an increase of 43 percent.

The report also notes that “43 percent of the nation’s urban Interstate highways (8,020 of 18,567 miles) are considered congested because they carry traffic levels that result in significant delays during peak travel hours.” Louisiana has 931 miles of Interstate in the 16,655-mile state highway system.

Since funding of the Interstate system was approved in 1956, annual vehicle miles of travel in the U.S. have increased dramatically nationwide according to TRIP.

“For 60 years, our nation’s Interstate system has transformed the quality of life for generations of Americans, expanded economic opportunity, and acted as a thread that connects each corner of Louisiana with the nation,” Governor John Bel Edwards said. “If we hope to improve upon and pass on this vital resource to our children, we must invest in the maintenance and strategic expansion of our transportation infrastructure system.”

“In Louisiana, we have made improvements and will continue to make improvements to the intestate system,” Louisiana DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D., said. “We have seen the completion of a number of projects to widen I-10 and I-12 in the southeastern part of the state, as well as opening I-49 from Shreveport to the Arkansas state line. There is still significant work to be done. We have a number of projects ongoing with I-49 South, and we’re moving forward with widening I-10 in the Capital Region. These interstate projects will be transformative for those local economies.”

According to the TRIP report, “the nation’s Interstate backlog includes $59 billion needed to improve pavement conditions, $30 billion to improve bridges and $100 billion for needed system expansion and enhancement.”

Louisiana needs $240 million to improve interstate pavement conditions, $1 billion to improve bridges and $2 billion to improve interstate capacity. Twenty-four of the State’s 900 interstate miles are in poor or very poor condition. Louisiana is facing a total backlog for infrastructure improvements that exceeds $12 billion, inclusive of the Interstate.

“The average Louisiana driver pays a little more than $15 per month in gas taxes that are put toward state highways and infrastructure, far less than monthly entertainment expenditures” Wilson said. “Governor Edwards is dedicated to improving infrastructure and has appointed a task force to determine the best way to move Louisiana forward using innovative funding sources. If we are going to adequately maintain our existing infrastructure and move forward on mega projects to address our state’s current and future growth, we must have the funding to direct toward these projects.”