The Transportation Task Force is recommending that the budget for roads and bridges be increased by $700 million a year.

DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says the need in Louisiana is great, and in order to address that need, they need an annual infusion of dollars that’s indexed for the Transportation Trust Fund.

“We’re not telling the governor or the legislature how to do it. We’re saying that in order to address the need that exists, you’re going to need that $700 million.”

Wilson says that money could come from toll roads, public-private partnerships, or an increase in the gas tax. He says the state’s 20-cent gas tax that was imposed 30 years ago is only worth half hat today. He says the state has $16 million in projects needed, including a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, and those projects require funding.

“We’re looking to diversify our funding stream. We’re looking to protect our funding stream, and we’re also looking to advance both the preservation and the expansion of the state system,” Wilson said.

Wilson says addressing all of the state’s needs at once would be impossible, as the state still has a $13 billion backlog of road and bridge needs. But he says that with a good annual investment, Louisiana can have an infrastructure system that we can be proud of.

“We can spend as much money as you give us effectively and efficiently, but we’re looking at this in terms of a long-term solution and not a onetime solution,” Wilson said.