Mary Tutwiler

DOTD proposes to return 5,000 miles of state roads to local governments

by Mary Tutwiler

With the state looking at a $2 billion shortfall over the next two years, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is attempting to streamline its budged by proposing to hand over the maintenance of about 5,000 miles of state roads to parish and local governments, reports the Times-Picayune. Funding to fix the roads, approximately $60 million a year, will also be made available to local government. The state department’s budget would be reduced by the same amount, and about 500 DOTD jobs will be cut through attrition, Eric Kalivoda, the agency’s assistant secretary for planning and programming, told a joint House-Senate transportation sub-committee. The TP reports:
There are about 61,000 miles of highways in the state, 16,687 miles owned and maintained by the  state, including short roadways that lead to fishing and hunting camps from main thoroughfares. Kalivoda said that means more than 27 percent of the roads in the state are owned and maintained by the state highway department. “We don’t need hunting camp roads in the state system,” he said. “The state should not be maintaining neighborhood streets.”
While lawmakers are in favor of granting more autonomy to local government, their concern is that the funding will not come through as promised. Rep. Sam Jones, Franklin, chairman of the subcommittee, told the TP that taking over maintenance of the roads “is a chance to decentralize state government. ... The trick pony is in the funding.”