The completion of the first two segments of a big Interstate 12 repair and widening project on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain is good news, as Gov. John Bel Edwards said, because it is such a heavily traveled route.
But we also mark the fact that significant parts of the road and bridge widening were made possible because of the state Department of Transportation and Development's snagging of extra federal funds.
While maybe not every year, but most, DOTD can gain some dollars from federally funded projects in other states that are delayed or canceled. In this particular case, it was about $43 million that went toward phase one of the St. Tammany projects, which cost about $170 million.
Far too often, what we hear about agencies is pejorative criticism of "bureaucrats," including the notion that most DOTD funding goes to salaries and not to roads. But the state is obligated to maintain roads and bridges as well as build them, and engineers and others make this state winners when they have "shovel-ready" projects to take advantage of federal funding unused elsewhere.
State funding for operations shouldn't be stigmatized by politicians. After all, on the north shore this time, Louisiana was a winner to the tune of $43 million.
-- The Advocate, September 12