Very few issues have as much bipartisan support today as infrastructure investment. Roads, rails, bridges, ports, airports, pipelines, broadband, and the power-grid represent essential components of our nation’s economic livelihood. Yet, communities nationwide can struggle to make key infrastructure projects a reality. In South Louisiana, business and community leaders and public officials are working hard to finally bring to fruition a highway project with the potential to stimulate tremendous economic growth and business investment: I-49 South.
With 100 of 160 miles of the project already complete or under construction, we are closer than ever to realizing the potential of I-49 South, known as “America’s Energy Corridor.” Completing I-49 South will provide a game-changing investment for Louisiana with substantial benefits in the following areas: economic development, safety, evacuation, and traffic congestion relief.
To produce a clearer view of the benefits South Louisiana stands to gain, community partners in the Acadiana region recently commissioned an economic impact analysis of completing I-49 South. The study revealed significant economic gains for Louisiana, including a $9.7 billion increase in Louisiana’s GDP over a 21-year period following the project’s construction, and the creation of 6,000 jobs statewide by 2044. This project doesn’t just benefit Louisiana – I-49 will provide connectivity from New Orleans all the way to Winnipeg, Canada, opening the door for economic development opportunities nationally and internationally.
I-49 South – and its associated benefits – can’t be realized, however, if Louisiana fails to sufficiently address our transportation funding needs. Enormous project backlogs have built up as we’ve failed to adequately invest in our infrastructure – a problem not unique to Louisiana.
According to a recent study by TRIP, Louisiana’s roadway conditions cost the average driver nearly $2,500 per year in some areas. To make matters worse, by 2019, without an increase in funding, Louisiana will fail to produce enough federal match dollars for transportation projects, leaving millions on the table for other states. This will make completing critical transportation projects in Louisiana, like I-49 South, all the more difficult.
That’s why the I-49 South Coalition has teamed up more than 250 organizations nationwide to participate in Infrastructure Week 2017. We are amplifying Infrastructure Week’s call to action, #TimeToBuild, by traveling to the Louisiana State Capitol on May 15 to attend legislative hearings and speak directly with legislators about the dire need for investing in our state’s transportation infrastructure network. We know that without modernizing our state’s infrastructure, Louisiana will struggle to compete economically.
It’s #TimeToBuild in Louisiana, and it’s #TimeToBuild I-49 South.