Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses. By linking producers to markets, workers to jobs, students to school, and the sick to hospitals, roads are vital to any economic development agenda. Currently, if you ask almost anyone who is working to bring jobs and commerce to our state and you’ll find they are hard pressed to list our highways, roads, and bridges as an asset. These are the facts:
- LA has a $14 billion road and bridge maintenance and capacity backlog.
- US News and World Report ranked LA as 48th in the country for worst roads and bridges.
- We burn 42 million extra gallons of excess fuel each year.
- We are 26th in lost productivity and wasted fuel.
- LA’s trucking industry leads the nation in fuel burn sitting in traffic.
Think about it. This is a list that does not exactly instill confidence in those looking to start a business or relocate a company to the state.
Literal Examples of How Bad Roads Cost Louisiana
Companies consider a variety of facts when looking to start, expand, or relocate a business and Louisiana has a number of bright spots. We have a very unique culture with incredible food, music and friendly people with a love of life. We have a number of traditional and emerging industries from petrochemical to technology. We have a solid infrastructure system consisting of air and rail along with some of the world’s top ports. We also have an aggressive economic development department that has worked hard to bring to bear creative and strategic initiatives to enhance the opportunities for business in our state.
However, one of the keys that should be linking all of this together is an abject failure—our dilapidated roads and crumbling bridges.
How do most people travel festivals to experience our culture?
On roads and bridges.
How do employees travel to jobs in the tech and petrochem industries?
Most via automobile.
How are products shipped to and from airports, train depots, and ports?
Trucks that rely on our roads and bridges.
It’s simple. Most vehicles, particularly loaded freight vehicles, are not designed to deal with the sharp, repeated shocks caused by potholes. Trucking companies are well aware of the extra costs that poor roads impose on road transport operations. According to a recent study, trucks operating on unmaintained rural roads during harvest time suffer a staggering 30 percent reduction in vehicle life. And this figure does not include extra fuel, accidents, downtime for repair, and damage to freight inside the vehicle. Poor roads also wear tires away faster and decrease gas mileage. In agriculture, some products see up to 40% damage from bad roads, which affects products coming in and out of the state. For example, Louisianans don’t want to buy bruised peaches and bananas from supermarkets, which means that product goes unsold, and the stores lose revenue as a result.
Every business in Louisiana relies on sound roads and bridges, and every segment of business —from manufacturing to agriculture—is impacted by poor roads. Because the Louisiana producers and distributors are not able to safely deliver product to consumers, it results in the loss of millions of dollars for the state’s businesses—small and large.
What are we waiting for? Poor roads and bridges negatively affect economic development, which limits opportunities for jobs in our state. The time to act is now to fix our roads, make Louisiana more appealing and bring more jobs to our state.