Gov. John Bel Edwards Thursday announced his appointments to a task force aimed at coming up with financial solutions for Louisiana’s road and bridge problems.
House, Senate, business and industry leaders are all the 18-member panel, which is expected to hold its first meeting shortly after July 4.
Tax hikes and other revenue-raising measures will be on the table, with recommendations to be prepared for the 2017 legislative session.
“This task force will be researching, identifying and making recommendations for achieving increased levels of recurring funding to address the transportation backlog,” Shawn Wilson, secretary for the Department of Transportation and Development and co-chair of the task force said in a prepared statement.
An increase in the state gasoline tax, public/private partnerships and local funding options are among the possibilities.
Transportation needs are a two-prong problem.
Louisiana has a $12.7 billion backlog of road and bridge needs, including maintenance.
The list of possible mega projects, including a new bridge across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, would cost another $10.5 billion.
Wilson has said the backlog is too daunting to tackle at once.
He said any push to improve transportation has to strike a balance between new projects and maintenance.
Unlike previous studies, this one has a chance of making headway because of the makeup of the committee and the fact Edwards is behind it.
Legislative leaders on the panel include House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, House Transportation Committee Chairman Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Page Cortez, R-Lafayette.
Others include John Basilica, former undersecretary of DOTD; Ken Naquin, chief executive officer of the Louisiana Association of General Contractors and Roland Dartez, executive director of the Police Jury Association.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Revenue Department Secretary Kim Robinson and Tom Yura, chairman of the Louisiana Chemical Association, are also on the task force.
Also, Robert Travis Scott, president of the Louisiana Public Affairs Research Council; Reldon Owens, member of the board of Blueprint Louisiana; Ronnie Harris, Gretna mayor and executive director of the Louisiana Municipal Association; Ann Trappey, chairwoman of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber board; Jared Brossett, a member of the New Orleans City Council; Wiley Gilfoil, executive director of the Lake Providence Port and Greg Morrison, chairman of Edwards’ transportation transition committee.
“This task force is geographically diverse and offers a wide range of experience that extends beyond the traditional transportation industry,” Edwards said, also in a prepared statement.
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