Graves Secures Additional Highway Funding for Louisiana in House-Senate Transportation Bill
Washington, DC – Congressman Garret Graves (R – Louisiana) helped to finalize negotiations on a five-year highway funding bill – including many provisions designed to address Louisiana’s traffic problems. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act contains substantial increases in federal highway funding for Louisiana, along with important Graves provisions that will help to address short, mid and long-term traffic solutions in the entire capitol region.
The bill strategically positions projects like the Washington Street exit area, I-10 and I-12 widening, LA-1 and LA-30 improvements, connecting Walker to Gonzales and a new Mississippi River bridge. As a conferee to the exclusive House-Senate conference, Graves worked closely with committee leaders from both chambers to reach a bicameral, bipartisan agreement on the landmark transportation bill.
“Drivers across South Louisiana are tired of seeing and hearing about how bad traffic is,” said Graves. “Our work will result in Louisiana getting a guaranteed increase of up to $100 million annually with additional grant opportunities funded at $800 million to $1 billion each year. We need to see action. When signed into law, this bill will give state and local authorities real opportunity to jump start high impact projects to get our roads moving again.”
Other provisions preserved in the final version of the bill could have additional direct impacts on South Louisiana. These include:
• The creation of the National Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, which will provide transportation funding for major national or regional projects. This includes $4.5 billion over 5 years of competitive grants for projects costing at least $100 million.
• A Graves amendment to prioritize projects to increase capacity of highway segments to improve mobility under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program (i.e., I-10 at Washington St. Exit and other locations).
• A Graves amendment to allow consideration for projects to improve energy security under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program (i.e., I-49, LA-1, I-10).
• A technology initiative pushed by Graves to better leverage innovation to make more efficient use of existing roads (i.e. intelligent traffic management).
• Expediting bureaucratic and time-consuming federal environmental and other reviews.
“Traffic lights were invented nearly 100 years ago, yet we are still largely using the same technology today. This is crazy,” Graves continued. “We have the ability to interface traffic management with cell phones, Google and Waze maps and newer technologies to help improve traffic flow on our existing roadways. These are solutions we can implement in months not years.
As I’ve said before, our roadways are decades behind where they need to be. Traffic delays are strangling our economy, taking time away from our families and are a daily reminder that taxpayers aren’t getting a return on investment. Louisiana’s share of additional funding and the new competitive grant program present tremendous opportunity to noticeable improvement.”
When asked about the competitive grant program, Graves responded: “Few projects rival the importance of clearing up the chokepoint along I-10. The Washington Street exit is one of the only places in the country where an interstate drops to one lane, and it occurs at a high volume point along a national corridor heavily used by cross-country freight, regional and local traffic. Louisiana will ultimately compete for funding under the program, but I am confident that I-10 is well positioned.”
The full House is expected to consider the FAST Act tomorrow. Funding for current highway programs expire December 4th.