Transportation Task Force holds regional meeting in Lake Charles
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 3:45:44 PM
LAKE CHARLES, La. – Joined by business and community leaders from across Southwest Louisiana, the Governor’s Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment met in Lake Charles yesterday as it continued its series of regional meetings across the state.

The regional meeting was held at the SEED Center and was hosted by the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission and the SW Economic Development Alliance.

In June 2016, Governor Edwards announced the formation of the Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment. The Task Force is working to find investment solutions to address transportation needs in Louisiana and will ultimately issue a recommendation to the Governor for legislative action in 2017.

“The significance of infrastructure needs is a top priority for our state,” said Major General John Basilica, Task Force co-chair.” This Task Force is committed to examining funding solutions that will allow us to continue to invest in our state’s infrastructure, as well as helping to create jobs and sustainable economic development.”

Basilica also adds that no funding solution is off the table. Various options will be examined including, but not limited to, tolls and public-private partnerships, which the state has already witnessed the benefits of in Calcasieu Parish through its recently completed $38 million Cove Lane Interchange project and through the upcoming completion of the Sasol project on La. 379.

“As rapid growth continues in Southwest Louisiana, it’s imperative that our local government agencies work closely with Louisiana DOTD to address traffic congestion hotspots that are already burdensome to many residents. We need to continue to invest in projects which better handle traffic flow and preserve the quality of life that we currently enjoy. The Cove Lane project came together quickly because of the working partnership between the state, local government and private business,” said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

"Sasol and DOTD are set to complete the heavy haul route project in Westlake this month. This public-private partnership resulted in a significant amount of newly widened roadway, permitting the delivery of heavy equipment to our mega project and improved access for freight to and through the region,” said Kim Cusimano, Manager of Public Affairs for Sasol North American Operations.

In addition to discussing the significance of identifying funding solutions for infrastructure projects, local and community leaders also stressed the need for dredging and the critical role it plays in economic growth for ports in the region and across the state.

"The Task Force meeting was a clear demonstration of the importance that multimodal transportation plays in commerce across southwest Louisiana and the entire state," said DOTD Multimodal Commerce Commissioner Tommy Clark. "Dredging needs are vast and limit our state's success. Facilitating increased dredging must be a part of how the state moves toward a fully integrated transportation system."

This week’s Task Force meetings also coincide as the nation celebrates National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

"Louisiana's vibrant freight corridor serves as a vital hub for oil, gas, and agricultural industries, playing an integral role in the state's economic prosperity. We appreciate the many men and women who drive countless hours on Louisiana’s roads transporting goods across the state,” added Shawn D. Wilson, DOTD Secretary and Task Force co-chair.

According to the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, the Louisiana trucking industry provided over 103,000 jobs in 2008. Additionally, 78 percent of Louisiana’s communities depend on trucks to move goods.

Funding recommendations by the Task Force will be submitted by January 1, 2017.

For more information on the Governor’s Task Force on Transportation please visit the Task Force web page.