Congressman Graves meets with president to discuss Louisiana’s infrastructure woes

Congressman Graves meets with president to discuss Louisiana’s infrastructure woes
Officials meet to discuss infrastructure (Source: White House)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new report by The White House states there are 1,634 bridges and more than 3,411 miles of highway in Louisiana in poor condition.

Louisiana has received a D+ grade on its infrastructure in a new report card from President Joe Biden’s administration. The report cites data that was collected by a team of more than 50 civil engineers who studied 11 major components of Louisiana’s infrastructure for more than 18 months.

Louisiana Republican Congressman for the 6th Congressional District, Garret Graves, was one of the few members of Congress who met with President Biden and Vice President Harris on Monday, April 12, to discuss the country’s infrastructure.

And a lot of people are wondering with all this talk of infrastructure coming from the White House if that could mean funding for a brand new Mississippi River Bridge.

It’s no secret that many of the roads and the traffic across the state and, especially in Baton Rouge, are just plain horrible. But could help be on the way to fix them?

“Which projects are going to deliver the best return of investment and, of course, that answer is going to be very different in California than it will be in Louisiana,” said Graves.

He met with the president and vice president in the Oval Office to talk about the Biden administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal and what it could mean for Louisiana residents.

“We talked about how, instead of coming in and adding this concept of social infrastructure, whatever that is, we need to actually step in and first do a better job on interstates. Like bridges on I-10, we need to do a better job, deepening the Mississippi River, making investments in our ports, looking at where rail and transit type investments can complement those other infrastructure projects,” Graves added.

He said his conversation with the president didn’t get into the exact figures of how much money Louisiana would receive to fix roads and bridges or what bridges would actually be fixed. And when it comes to the big question for drivers - will a new Mississippi River Bridge be built? - Gaves said there’s still some groundwork the state must do.

“We have to make sure we have infrastructure programs that are capable of delivering priorities now. I mean, how ridiculous is it that we don’t even have an alignment for where the bridge is going to go. This is crazy! We’ve been talking about this for what, 30 or 40 years, and we don’t even have an alignment of where it’s going to go? There’s not even a project that I can try to get funded until we get that done,” Graves explained.

Louisiana DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson is hopeful Biden’s proposal could help jump-start the nearly $15 billion worth of transportation projects that he said are currently in backlog.

DOTD said it is ready to move but only when the funding is available.

Graves said the cost of the president’s final bill and what the money is exactly spent on will have to be adjusted before Republicans like him get on board.

“As long as we’re moving forward in something that respects that these are taxpayer dollars, these are public funds. We’ve got to invest them wisely in things that provide a return on investment to those taxpayers that are funding these programs. Then, yes, I’ll absolutely keep an open mind,” said Graves.

He expects there to be more in-depth conversations about the specifics of what the money in this massive infrastructure plan will go towards in discussions happening in the coming days and weeks.

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