Choosing NOT to fix our roads comes at a cost. On paper, it may look like we’re saving money by not spending it on roads. However, the price of not taking the opportunity to fix them adds up. Over the years, it costs our state money as well as individual residents more NOT to fix them than it would to fix them.
The Opportunity Cost Of Louisiana’s Roads
Opportunity cost is what you miss out on when you spend money on something else. For example, on your commute home, you hit a pothole and have to pay $150 for a new tire. The straight cost of that flat tire is $150. The opportunity cost is everything else that you could have spent that $150 on. New clothes, a fun night out, or groceries—opportunity cost could be different for everyone.
Now, wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to hit the pothole in the first place? It turns out that Louisiana’s terrible roads could be costing you way more than $150. Louisianians’ additional vehicle operating costs could be more than $700. When you add in congestion-related delays and traffic crashes, it could be as high as $2,400! As that amount rises, the opportunity cost grows with it. Now, you’re missing out on potential vacations, school tuition, or your family’s mortgage.
Louisiana has a $26 billion backlog of road and bridge projects in Louisiana. Theoretically, the state has spent that $26 billion on other things. NOT spending it on roads is an opportunity cost. And it’s quite the cost, indeed. The longer we wait to fix them, the worse they’ll get. And the worse they get, the more expensive it will be to fix them. So, the opportunity cost will continue to grow.
The Economic Cost Of Not Fixing Our Roads
Louisiana’s roads affect the statewide economy by costing us jobs, tourism, and business. A quarterly magazine, 10/12 Industry Report provides news, data, analysis and insight. Specifically, they focus on the petrochemical and oil and gas industries in south Louisiana. Any resident knows that these industries are huge parts of the state’s economy—and the condition of our roads and bridges affects them.
This recent article recaps the annual meeting of Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.). It’s the regional economic development organization serving the 10-parish region of southeast Louisiana. The conversation centered on the need for statewide infrastructure funding for economic growth.
Michael Hecht, GNO Inc. president and CEO, explained, “We talk about incentives, but that’s not economic development. Economic development is about creating the conditions where people want to invest their capital. If you do that, companies will come and thrive.”
It’s Time To Prioritize Our Roads
Energy, advanced manufacturing, and trade are critical to Louisiana’s future. In fact, according to Louisiana Economic Development, energy and advanced manufacturing are two of Louisiana’s key industries. Without stable and safe roads and bridges, our state won’t be able to entice more businesses and more jobs. It’s time for our state leaders to prioritize our roads, so our cost doesn’t grow even more. Do your part by telling your legislatures to vote for bills to help our infrastructure! It’s an issue that affects all of us—and our wallets.