Business leaders announce statewide transportation coalition

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Leaders representing the business community at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Monthly Lunch event announced the formation of a new statewide coalition to advocate for significant and sustainable transportation funding.

The coalition, BUILD IT: Businesses United for Improving Louisiana’s Development by Investing in Transportation, outlined key principles developed through outreach to legislators and business organizations.

Maximize Existing Funding and Ensure Accountability:

• Continue to restore trust in the Transportation Trust Fund, and prohibit the transfer of TTF funds to non-transportation uses

• Leverage existing financing opportunities

Increase Transportation Investment:

• Significantly increase transportation revenue sufficient to address the state’s $13 billion maintenance backlog and construct new capacity “megaprojects”

• While a variety of sources have been considered, the bulk of funding must come through an increase in the state gas tax

• Direct all new revenue to construction and maintenance projects

• Increase transparency and accountability on megaproject construction, including project delivery timeline, prioritized through a data-based analysis of project benefits

“Aggressive action on transportation funding during this legislative session is critical,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “If a major new revenue increase is not passed this year, our next opportunity will not come until 2021. Frankly, that is not an option. The time to act is now.”

“This coalition demonstrates strong support from every single region of our state for increasing transportation revenues,” said Jason El Koubi, president and CEO of One Acadiana. “Like the more than 20 business and civic organizations in this coalition, a bi-partisan majority of voters also supports increasing Louisiana’s transportation investment, according to recent poll results. Voters are doing the math, and recognize that the benefits of better roads outweigh the costs of a modest gas tax increase.”

According to a recent report released by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization, roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested or lack safety features cost Louisiana motorists a total of $6.5 billion statewide annually and as much as $2,466 per driver in some urban areas. This is due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays. TRIP’s report advised that increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in Louisiana. 

Another recent report, LSU’s annual Louisiana Survey 2017, showed strong bipartisan support among Louisiana residents for a substantial increase in the state gas tax to improve transportation and infrastructure.

BUILD IT Coalition members represents the following 21 statewide, regional, and local economic development and industry groups:  

• Baton Rouge Area Chamber 

• Blueprint Louisiana

• Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance 

• CRISIS – Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions

• East Feliciana Parish Chamber of Commerce

• Evangeline Parish Industrial Board

• Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance 

• Greater New Orleans Regional Economic Alliance

• Greater Pointe Coupee Chamber of Commerce

• I-49 South Coalition

• Jeff Davis Parish Economic Development and Tourist Commission

• Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission

• Lafayette Economic Development Authority

• Louisiana Chemical Association 

• North Louisiana Economic Partnership

• Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance 

• One Acadiana

• Ports Association of Louisiana

• South Louisiana Economic Council 

• SWLA Economic Development Alliance

• West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce

 

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