Tolls are an option worth considering to finance major road projects, state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson said Tuesday.
Wilson told the House Transportation Committee that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration is “very supportive of tolling as an option to fund transportation and to fund projects that are significant.”
“No major infrastructure in this country is going to be built with just federal or state money,” he said.
The issue surfaced during discussion of House Resolution 178, which would direct DOTD to do a study on the feasibility of tolling highways and bridges in Louisiana.
The proposal won committee approval and was sent to the full House.
The state faces a $12.7 billion backlog of road and bridge needs statewide.
Previous legislative efforts to come up with ways to finance improvements have failed.
A new round of such efforts is expected after the state’s immediate financial problem — a $600 million shortfall starting July 1 — is resolved.
Where any such tolls might be erected is unclear, but heavy traffic is one of the criteria.
“Just because it is a road does not mean it can be a toll,” Wilson said.
He said tolls can supplement an otherwise unaffordable road or bridge project.
“If we can get us 20 percent or 30 percent of the way, we are 20 percent or 30 percent closer to the projects,” Wilson said.
Wilson previously has said any push for road and bridge improvements will require a variety of funding sources, not just an increase in the state gasoline tax.
He said those options include tolls, local funding options and public-private partnerships.
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