Last week, approximately 60 Acadiana business and civic leaders traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to meet with their counterparts on One Acadiana’s inaugural Leadership Exchange trip. We returned home with many good ideas and have an immediate opportunity to apply one of them by voting “yes” on Constitutional Amendment No. 2.

Charleston is an iconic city with a deep history, rich culture, and strong regional connectivity in infrastructure and mindset. A key to accelerating and managing the growth of the Charleston metro area has been its focus on transportation infrastructure.

Charleston’s architecturally stunning Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is a great example of what can be achieved with a focused strategy, innovative partnerships and persistent leadership across the public and private sectors.

At a total cost of $632 million, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge represents one of the largest single transportation infrastructure projects completed in South Carolina’s history. It was financed through an innovative transportation funding mechanism — the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank.

Without a $325 million commitment from the Infrastructure Bank matched by about $75 million in local revenues from a dedicated sales tax, the project would not have secured the federal match to move forward. Since its inception less than 20 years ago, the Infrastructure Bank has leveraged approximately $2 billion of its funding to complete more than 100 projects totaling about $5.3 billion in infrastructure investment across the state.

As Louisiana faces a $12 billion — and growing — infrastructure backlog, we must pursue new ways of financing our key priorities in order to sustain and accelerate our economic development.

For example, the completion of Interstate 49 remains the top infrastructure project for the Acadiana region and would provide a new, continuous interstate corridor from Shreveport to New Orleans. Along with the excitement created by the recent kickoff of the planning and design of the Lafayette Connector portion of I-49 South, we must also acknowledge the funding challenges that lie ahead.

As we consider Charleston’s progress, Louisiana voters have the opportunity to put a similar funding mechanism in place by voting “yes” on Constitutional Amendment No. 2. That amendment will provide the constitutional authority to fund a Louisiana State Transportation Infrastructure Bank without raising taxes or fees. While the Legislature has created the Infrastructure Bank, voters still have to provide constitutional authority for the state treasurer to invest existing state funds into the bank.

We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by. On Saturday, let’s build our own bridge to the future by voting “yes” on Constitutional Amendment No. 2.

One Acadiana endorses this funding mechanism for the Louisiana State Transportation Infrastructure Bank — vote ‘yes’ on Constitutional Amendment No. 2.

Jason El Koubi

president and CEO, One Acadiana

Lafayette