Transportation funding is subject at Rotary
By Shantelle Breaux
CROWLEY – Jennifer Marusak, executive director of Driving Louisiana Forward, was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Crowley Rotary Club.
A statewide campaign organized by businesses and interested parties, Driving Louisiana Forward is committed to improving the state’s infrastructure, which is a major issue for motorists.
“We all know what the problems are, we drive on them every day,” said Marusak.
Most bridges in the state are dilapidated, in need of repair and over 40 years old, and unmet road, bridge and port construction needs have created a backlog of $14 billion.
In it’s third year, the campaign is working to make citizens and legislators aware that long-term infrastructure funding is possible without having to increase fees or taxes.
The Transportation Trust Fund is the state’s primary source of road money, and consists of a 16-cent gas tax. According to Marusak, however, this tax has never been adjusted for inflation. Currently, only eight cents makes up the buying power of the 16 cents.
Marusak stated that many things can be done to find more money in the Transportation Trust Fund. Many things, such as benefits for DOTD employees, can be paid for from the general fund, leaving more money in the Trust Fund.
Marusak stated that the main thing citizens can do is keep in touch with their legislators, asking them to keep transportation funding priority.
She also said that any surplus money that the state gets can only be used on one-time only, ready-to-start-now projects.