BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– A 2017 report by the American Society for Civil Engineers grades Louisiana’s bridges a D+.
The study ranks the state fourth in total bridge area, but over 1,700 of those bridges are structurally deficient.
A representative from the mayor’s office and the Department of Transportation and Development says the biggest obstacle is funding.
The Biden administration’s infrastructure plan aims at funding necessary projects that would improve Louisiana’s infrastructure, but Congressman Garrett Graves says that will not be enough.
“This is what the failure of a system looks like. And so I think the solutions are number one, we do need to make greater investments. I firmly believe that we’ve got to make greater investments in infrastructure, but you cannot just dump more money into a failed system,” said Graves.
He believes the best way to improve Lousiana’s grade is to get to the construction part of the projects quicker while the funding is available.
“We can’t dismiss or discount the role of streamlining that process, staying focused on what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to implement traffic solutions,” said Graves.
Rodney Mallett with DOTD says the grade is not surprising but does not represent the state in 2021, “our bridges were built, a lot of them, in the fifties and the sixties, and as they get older, they start to wear… if you look at some of our interstate bridges and you look at some of the bridge projects that we have going on right here in the capital region, we’re seeing a lot of improvements.”
A 2019 report indicated two local bridges – the Jimmie Davis Bridge and the I-20 bridge over the St. Louis Railroad – were in bad shape.
Graves says if infrastructure were graded today, “we would probably be generally in a D- or an F category for our roads today.”
But Mallett wants Louisiana drivers to know this D+ rating does not mean the roads and bridges are unsafe. “Anytime that a bridge is open, it is safe. We go out and inspect these bridges all quite often because safety is the number one concern,” said Mallett.
Graves does believe we will see an improvement in our grade.
“We’ve made some extraordinary progress over the past couple of years, particularly in the capital area… we will get up probably to somewhere in the “A” range, if not the least of “B-plus” on the roads,” he said.