DOTD Boss: Virus Causing $200 Million Funding Shortfall [VIDEO]
DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson talks to 101.7 / 710 KEEL's Robert J Wright and Erin McCarty about the his department's added efforts to clean up the state's highways and making up the funding shortage caused by the COVID 19 shutdown.
Wilson tells KEEL listeners, "We've just celebrated keep Louisiana Beautiful Week and we weren't able to do it in our normal fashion. Taking full advantage of the reduced traffic and the stay-at-home order coming to an end, we saw an opportunity to focus on a real big problem...and that's litter."
Wilson adds that reduced traffic on the Louisiana's roads allows his crews to get to problems that they otherwise might be too busy to take care of, like "rolling debris and trees."
The Secretary adds that the additional DOTD clean-up efforts will continue through next week.
Wilson also addresses the funding that his department has lost because of the Governor's emergency declaration. "Our department is funded primarily by gas taxes," he says, "When people don't drive, people don't pay the gas taxes. We're seeing about a 35 to 40% reduction in driving across the state and that's going to translate to about a $50 million gap per quarter."
Wilson also hopes that the lost funding can be made up by money from the federal government, perhaps even infrastructure programs rivaling those of the Great Depression. "We'd love to have another WPA...and start to build our country and our economy. The reality is there's still going to be some fatigue in terms of Congress wanting to spend additional dollars...but when you spend on infrastructure, you actually create jobs."