The state's infrastructure has not been adequately maintained and is below average in most areas, according to a report released today by the Louisiana Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
BATON ROUGE -- The state's infrastructure has not been adequately maintained and is below average in most areas, according to a report released today by the Louisiana Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The report, in the form of a report card in nine areas of infrastructure, shows the state scored above average in two: dams, where it got a grade of B minus, and in solid waste systems, where it received a grade of C plus.
Former Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Kam Movassaghi, who is the executive director of the "2012 Report Card for Louisiana Infrastructure," said the rest of the grades were below average. The report card gave roads in the state a grade of D, bridges a D plus, levees a C minus, aviation a C, ports a C minus, drinking water systems a D plus and wastewater systems a C minus.
"If your child ... brought this report card home, what would you do?" asked Movassaghi, now the president of an engineering firm and a professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. "This is something we should not be proud of."
He said the report card is based on the work of about 50 engineers poring through technical reports, budgets, inspection records, maintenance schedules and other documents for the past 18 months. The engineering societies in 24 other states have issued similar report cards, he said.
Movassaghi said the report will be circulated among state lawmakers and state officials to see if more money can be allocated to infrastructure needs.
He pointed out that 16 cents of the 20-cent state gasoline tax that helps finance road and other infrastructure needs has not been increased since 1984, despite spiraling costs of construction.
Movassaghi said now is the time to start talking about the state's poor infrastructure in the hopes more can be raised for it.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has promised not to raise taxes, and the newly-elected Legislature is expected to take its cue from him and also oppose tax increases.
A new report card will be issued in five years, Movassaghi said.
State transportation department spokesman Dustin Annison said the agency "focuses our funding to improve major (highway) corridors, reduce traffic congestion and improve road quality in Louisiana. There are many ongoing projects still under construction which will help to improve our rating in subsequent reports when they are finished."
He said that since Jindal has been in office, the state has invested "more than $4.1 billion in Louisiana's infrastructure, an unprecedented amount" and reduced the backlog of projects from about $14 billion worth to about $12.6 billion.