Jindal announces $150 million in rural road upgrades statewide

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday announced a $150 million investment to repair around 360 miles of rural roads across the state.

According to a news release from the governor's office, the investment is part of the governor's initiative to bond out half of the State Highway Improvement Fund, which will generate $425 million over three years to repair approximately 1,100 miles of rural roads across Louisiana.

The release says that in the first year, the $150 million will be used for nearly 80 projects.

The first-year project summary lists two projects in Beauregard, including work on La. 112 and La. 109. Several projects are also slated in Vernon, including work on La. 28, Victor Martin Road and South Strother Lane.

The first-year projects were reportedly selected through DOTD's priority program based on traffic volumes and roadway assessments.

Rep. Jim Fannin authored a bill in the 2012 legislative session to bond out the State Highway Improvement Fund.

According to the release, the State Highway Improvement Fund was created exclusively to fund state roads classified as Non-Federal Aid routes that are not eligible for federal funding.  Non-Federal Aid routes are made up of mostly rural roads.

According to the governor's office, unlike major roadways, Non-Federal Aid routes are not eligible for matching funds from the federal government, which means there is less money available to fund projects for rural roads throughout the state. The State Highway Improvement Fund receives dedicated funding from commercial vehicle registration and license fees. The legislation signed by the Governor will bond out half of the State Highway Improvement Fund, and the bonds will be structured so they do not last longer than the life of the roads being repaired.

"Since taking office, we've made transportation investments a top priority because we know that quality roads lead to a stronger economy. These investments will upgrade roads that in some cases have not been repaired in 30 years to help make our state more attractive for new business investments, and most importantly, to make our roads safer for our families," Jindal said in the release.

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