Part I: Facts
TRIP is a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., for national transportation research. According to the TRIP, a new report is released daily at the local, state, and federal levels. Due to aging, congestion, or lack of some desirable safety features, Louisiana’s roads and bridges cost motorists $7.6 billion statewide and $2,403 per driver in the New Orleans metropolitan area due to increased vehicle operating costs, accidents, and congestion-related delays. There is an improvement in transportation investment that can ease traffic congestion, improve roads, bridges, and traffic conditions, improve security, and support both Louisiana’s short-term and long-term economic growth.
According to TRIP’s report, across Louisiana, nearly half of the local and state-maintained significant roads are in poor or fair condition, and 13% of local and state-maintained bridges (20 feet or more in length) are rated poor/structurally deficient. Also, the report found that more than 3,700 people were killed on the state’s roads between 2015 and 2019. Urban roads in New Orleans, due to the need to repair the roads and the additional vehicle operating cost (VOC) because of the delays associated with congestion and loss of time and fuel, and the costs of traffic accidents, including the lack of adequate road facilities, although not the main reason, but maybe a contributing factor. The report includes regional pavement and bridge conditions, a list of the most congested corridors, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans, and Shreveport metropolitan areas.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle travel in Louisiana declined by 36% in April 2020 (compared to vehicle travel in the same month of the previous year). However, it rebounded to 6% below the prior year in January 2021. However, among New Orleans locals, the state of the city’s infrastructure system has been a topic of conversation for decades — as common as discussing a favorite restaurant or the next holiday on the calendar. Traffic jams in the New Orleans metropolitan area cost motorists 60 hours of delays and 26 gallons of wasted fuel each year, costing New Orleans drivers an average of $1,312 in lost time and wasted fuel each year. Statewide, drivers lose $3 billion a year in lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic jams.
The condition of New Orleans’ roads not only delays drivers’ driving time and fuel consumption but also takes a toll on their vehicles – as they get beat up and depreciate in value, along with the wear and tear on tires and the additional fuel consumption that comes with driving on less-than-ideal roads. For most drivers, potholes and other road damage are a fact of life. Often, drivers will take all the necessary steps to avoid potholes and other road damage. Drivers hope that this will help keep their vehicles free of damage. After all, bent rims, punctured tires, and broken axles can cause a wide range of problems. Damaged cars and lost work time due to repairs may be just the beginning. Roadway problems can also cause serious damage. The problem stems from Louisiana’s wet, flood-prone terrain and lack of transportation funding at the local, state, and federal levels. Worst of all, this funding shortfall has led to unsafe conditions for drivers. From 2013 to 2017, an average of 737 Louisiana.
Road surface failures are caused by a combination of traffic, moisture, and weather. Moisture often enters the road surface and the materials that make up the road’s foundation. Reconstructing a road is four times more expensive than making minor repairs, so it is critical to repair the road beforehand. Once a road continues to deteriorate, it can reach a level of deterioration where routine maintenance is not possible, resulting in a road that cannot meet the needs of travelers.
Given the number of waterways in New Orleans, its bridges form a critical link in the highway system, providing employment, schools, medical facilities, businesses, and other essential services to communities and individuals. Structurally deficient bridges may be posted with lower weight limits or closed if their condition requires it. Restrictions on vehicle weights may lead to reliance on alternative routes. For vehicles like ambulances, commercial trucks, school buses, and farm equipment, this could put the public at more extreme risk. Thirteen percent of bridges in Louisiana, where New Orleans is located, are rated in poor structural condition, the seventh highest in the United States.
Most bridges have a design life of 50 years before major repairs or replacement, while modern bridges can last 75 years or longer. In New Orleans, 33 percent of bridges were built in 1969 or earlier. The life of a bridge can be extended by routine maintenance, such as resurfacing the bridge, painting the surface, ensuring proper drainage, and replacing deteriorated components. Routine maintenance helps keep our bridges in good condition, but most require expensive construction or major repairs to remain operable.
Part II: The Solution
President Joe Biden was in Louisiana Thursday, 6th May 2021, to introduce his $2.3 trillion American jobs plan, focusing on the state’s precarious infrastructure as he seeks to build broad public support for his proposal.” I have never seen the Republican or Democratic Road. I have only seen roads,” Biden said in front of a 70-year-old bridge in Lake Charles that has outlived its life expectancy by 20 years. The bridge is part of Interstate 10, a major east-west transportation and a commercial artery in the heart of the country’s energy corridor, connecting Houston to New Orleans. This route is home to many petrochemical refineries.
Repairing all of New Orleans’ surface and underground infrastructure problems alone would cost about $9 billion. Biden proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent to pay for his plan. According to an April Morning Consult/Politico poll, nearly two-thirds of voters say they support raising the corporate tax rate to pay for infrastructure improvements, including half of the Republican voters who have an opinion on the issue. Nevertheless, raising taxes remains a non-starter for congressional Republicans.
In Germany, to accommodate higher-speed traffic, freeway pavements are constructed with multiple layers of concrete. Freeway pavements are also inspected regularly to detect irregularities or any damage to the pavement. If any problems are found during these inspections, the entire roadway around the damaged section will be replaced. On the highway, like most roads in the United States, the left lane is strictly for passing; for everything else, you must stay to the right. If you are not overtaking and are just driving, you must move your car to the right. The main difference between these two countries is that in Germany, drivers respect this rule. In the United States, this rarely happens. Because the Germans pay such close attention to this rule, traffic can flow more freely on their highways.
After studying highway designs from Germany and Austria, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration constructed a one-mile section of northbound I-75 in Detroit in 1993, using the more costly European specifications. As a comparison, it built a section of this road south in the usual Michigan manner. The European section was constructed with two layers of concrete, thicker than the one layer of concrete typical of Michigan highways. The concrete is based on a deep layer of crushed limestone rather than the sand typically used on Michigan highways. The joints are tighter than the typical Michigan design, allowing for more expansion.
Michigan highway engineers are absorbing some of the most cost-effective features of this design as they rebuild the state’s roads. In West Michigan, the soil is primarily sand and gravel, which is a much better base for roads. In the Upper Peninsula, it is rocky and swampy. Central Michigan is a mixture of sand and clay. Southeastern Michigan, the most densely populated area of the state, is heavy clay and is the worst road base because it does not allow water to drain away. That’s why one section of I-75 in Monroe County is one of the worst in the state.
President Joe Biden signed the more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, making it the first piece of the party’s massive economic agenda. The package will put $550 billion in new money into transportation, broadband, and utilities. Biden’s signature comes after years of failed efforts in Washington to overhaul physical infrastructure, improvements that advocates say will boost the economy and create jobs. The legislation would put $110 billion into roads, bridges, and other major projects. And it chooses to spend $39 billion on public transportation systems.
So, for New Orleans, the most suitable approach is for the government to allocate the funds for city construction wisely. It should choose to set the most important goal of repairing roads and improving road conditions over a period. Transportation is the driving force of urban development, connecting cities, regions, and people. The development of the city and the prosperity of the region can never be separated from convenient transportation. They not only change people’s lifestyles but also influence the economy of a region. Traffic is the city’s blood vessel, responsible for the entire city cycle operation up to work and life. All cannot be separated from the traffic. Traffic is paralyzed, cannot go to work, businesses cannot survive, cannot generate tax revenue, city construction is stagnant, traffic paralysis food cannot be transported in, people cannot live, not to mention building the city. In other words, the city is well made, with many work, life, and recreational resources, but it still needs to transport people from all corners to their places of need through transportation.
One out of every five miles of highways and major roads in the United States, and 45,000 bridges, are in poor condition. The legislation would reauthorize and condition surface transportation projects for five years. The legislation would reauthorize surface transportation projects for five years and invest an additional $110 billion to rehabilitate cities’ roads and bridges and support major transformation projects. The bipartisan infrastructure law makes the largest investment in repairing and rebuilding the nation’s bridges since the construction of the Interstate Highway System. It will rebuild the most economically significant bridges in the country, as well as thousands of smaller bridges. The legislation also includes the first-ever “Safe Streets and Roads for All” program to support projects to reduce traffic crashes, which claimed more than 20,000 lives in the first half of 2021.
Rural roads and bridges are an important part of the U.S. economy. They connect the entire country and support a network for transporting products that are vital to the nation. Research by America Counts staff shows that rural America consists of nearly 97 percent of the landmass of the United States, much of which is dedicated to agriculture. As a result, America’s rural areas deliver a sustainable pipeline of food, energy, and other products that help the entire U.S. economy. Not only are the goods and services connected by these roads vital, but the transportation network itself creates many jobs. Tourism is another beneficial aspect of rural transportation, as rural roads provide access to tourist destinations, such as national parks, outdoor recreation, and scenic vacations. (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-democrats-hit-road-show-infrastructure-law-americans/story?id=81204734)
This is certainly a good solution for building the city of New Orleans. Because one of the most important aspects of solving the city’s problems is affordability, in contrast, there may be greater opposition to increasing taxes because the quality of life of the lower class will be questioned. Conversely, the act of investing money from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy will not only make the masses support and cooperate with the government but will also harvest the basic trust of the people. The happiness of the people in the city increases, and the development of the city will be more expressed. When the New Orleans government has enough energy to hire enough workers to repair and maintain the roads, it can also buy the materials and tools needed to repair the roads. Repairing roads to improve the traffic environment can make a city’s operation into a virtuous cycle, and the spread of business and economic culture can be more convenient and faster.