Mann: Louisiana’s Infrastructure and I-49 South Matter

Infrastructure matters. It matters, in big ways and in small, to our country, our economy, our quality of life, our safety, and our communities. Roads, bridges, rails, ports, airports, pipes, the power grid, broadband… infrastructure matters to companies that manufacture and ship goods. It matters to our daily commutes and our summer vacations. Infrastructure determines if we can drink water straight from our taps and flush our toilets or do our laundry. It brings electricity in to our homes. Ultimately, infrastructure matters to every aspect of our daily lives.

That is why the I-49 South Coalition has teamed up with hundreds of other groups around the country including One Acadiana to participate in Infrastructure Week 2016. We’re raising awareness about the need to invest in transportation infrastructure, which is the backbone of our economy, locally and nationally.

Transportation infrastructure is top of mind in Acadiana these days, and we know that every year that Louisiana fails to adequately invest in our transportation infrastructure our state becomes less competitive, our economy grows more slowly, and families and businesses lose valuable time and money. The goods we manufacture cost more when they get stuck on congested highways, rerouted around structurally deficient bridges, and stranded at outdated ports.

In light of the state’s nearly $13 billion backlog in transportation infrastructure projects, it has been historically challenging to secure funding for I-49 South. U.S. 90 was not designed to handle the amount of traffic it now supports, and parts of U.S. 90 are currently handling more than one and a half times their daily capacity.

Completion of I-49 South is within reach. More than 100 of the planned 160 miles of I-49 South are complete or currently under construction. Bringing the current U.S. 90 highway up to interstate standards will greatly improve a vital national link to “America’s Energy Corridor” while providing substantial benefits for economic development, safety, evacuation, and traffic congestion relief. In terms of economic development, top executives continue to rank a good highway system as the No. 1 or No. 2 most important factor when expanding, relocating, or starting a new business.

Infrastructure matters. I-49 South matters. It’s time for all levels of government and the private sector to work together to rebuild, repair, and grow Louisiana’s infrastructure.

— David Mann

Chairman of the I-49 South Coalition