Louisiana Good Roads and
Transportation Association
Winter 2016 Newsletter
Edwards transition team offers several funding options for transportation
Gov. John Bel Edwards

Gas tax and sales tax increases, local option gas taxes, indexing and tolls are among the revenue ideas Gov. John Bel Edwards' Transition Committee on Transportation put forward as options for improving Louisiana's transportation infrastructure.

Although transportation funding was not included in the governor's call for the special legislative session that started Feb. 14, Edwards' team spent weeks working behind the scenes to develop the new governor's transportation agenda.

"The general consensus of the committee was that proper funding of the transportation system is key," the committee wrote in its report to Edwards. "In the past several years, dollars spent directly on the transportation system have dwindled and improvements have been halted. An infusion of dollars into Louisiana's transportation system would put these improvements back on track and be an excellent initial step in putting Louisiana first."

The team's report says any funding proposal should include new projects for roads, ports, airports and rail because voters will be "reluctant to approve a new tax to pay solely for administration and operations or maintenance of the transportation system."

The entire report is available on the Good Roads website under "News & Events."

Shawn Wilson
DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson, Ph.D.
Edwards taps Wilson to head DOTD

Shawn Wilson, the longtime chief of staff at DOTD, is the new secretary of the department.

Governor John Bel Edwards named Wilson as the new secretary on December 16. Wilson served under two governors and three secretaries at DOTD, where he began working in 2004. Prior to his work at DOTD, he served in legislative affairs under Gov. Kathleen Blanco and worked as executive director of the Louisiana Serve Commission for several years.

A native of New Orleans, Wilson received his Ph.D. in public policy from Southern University, a master's degree in public administration from Southern and a BA from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He and his wife, Rocki, live in Lafayette and have two children, Shawn Denise and Joshua Bakari. 

LeBas, Love, Ponti join Good Roads Board

Former DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas, Primoris Services Corporation Vice President Lew Love and Louisiana Asphalt Pavement Association Director Erich
Ponti have joined Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association Board of Directors.

LeBas, who served as secretary from 2010 until 2016, was the first woman to hold the top post at DOTD. She is retiring after 30 years of service to the state, including 24 years at DOTD. Prior to serving as secretary, LeBas was deputy secretary and directly oversaw the $1.4 billion state surplus construction program and the $430 million federal recovery program. LeBas also served as assistant to the secretary for policy and as a facilitator in the DOTD Change Management Program. She also assisted the program manager with the $5 billion TIMED program.

Love is vice president of Primoris Services Corporation, an engineering andconstruction firm that includes the Baton Rouge-based James Construction Group. He has worked with James since 1983 and has served as a vice president since 2003. Love is the past president of the Concrete and Aggregate Association of Louisiana (CAAL) and the Association of Construction Equipment Managers (ACEM). He also serves on the board of Louisiana Associated General Contractors.

Erich Monti
Ponti took over as executive director of LAPA in 2015 upon the retirement of Don Weathers. Ponti is a former state representative from District 69 in Baton Rouge. He served two terms in office and resigned his seat to head up LAPA. Ponti received a degree in construction management from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and started a contracting company prior to being elected to public office in 2007.

The three vacancies on the board occurred with the death of William Conway, the transfer to emeritus status of Neil Wagoner and the gubernatorial appointment to the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority chairmanship of Johnny Bradberry, who was precluded by Good Roads' bylaws from remaining on the board.

Naquin to be Good Roads rep on Infrastructure Bank

Ken Naquin
Louisiana Associated General Contractors Executive Director
Ken Naquin will represent Good Roads on the Louisiana State Infrastructure Bank's Board of Directors.

Naquin, who serves as the Good Roads secretary/treasurer, was elected to represent Good Roads at its annual meeting in December.

The infrastructure bank, which was created by the 2015 Legislature, will allow local governments to seek low-interest loans on infrastructure projects. In October 2015, voters approved a constitutional amendment to authorize the state treasurer to invest idle state funds into the bank. The board of directors will decide which projects receive funding.

Other board members will include the treasurer, DOTD secretary, chairmen of the House and Senate transportation committees, a representative from the Louisiana Bankers Association and a representative from the state Board of Certified Accountants of Louisiana.

Have you seen the Good Roads White Paper?

Back in August 2015, Good Roads released a white paper on the state of transportation funding in Louisiana. The four-page document has been cited by legislators and others as an excellent explanation of why the state needs to invest more money into transportation. You can click here to see a copy of the paper, which is posted on the Good Roads website.

Good Roads also makes presentations to civic groups and community organizations across the state about how our transportation system is funded. If you know of a group that would be interested in this informative presentation, please contact Mark Lambert at mark@lambert-media.com for details.
Sen. Cortez, Rep. Havard to chair transportation committees

The newly elected Louisiana Legislature has new leaders on the key House and Senate transportation committees.

Sen. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, assumes leadership of the Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works committee. Freshman Senator Sharon Hewitt of Slidell is the vice chairwoman. Other members include senators Troy Brown of Napoleonville, Dale Erdey of Livingston, Jim Fannin of Jonesboro, Gerald Long of Winfield and Gary Smith of Norco.

Rep. Kenneth Havard, R-Jackson, is the new chairman of the House Transportation, Highways and Public Works committee. Terry Landry of New Iberia begins his second stint as vice chairman. Other House members include representatives Bryan Adams of Gretna, Terry Brown of Colfax, Barbara Carpenter of Baton Rouge, Stephen Carter of Baton Rouge, Ronnie Edwards of Baton Rouge, A.B. Franklin of Lake Charles, Jerry Gisclair of Larose, John Guinn of Jennings, Dorothy Sue Hill of Dry Creek, Frank Howard of Many, H. Bernard LeBas of Ville Platte, C. Denise Marcelle of Baton Rouge, Jack Montoucet of Crowley, Barbara Norton of Shreveport, Vincent Pierre of Lafayette, J. Rogers Pope of Denham Springs and Malinda White of Bogalusa.

U.S. DOT proposes $98.1 billion budget for 2017

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced President Obama's $98.1 billion Fiscal Year 2017 Budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

The Budget reflects Secretary Foxx's 30-year vision for the Department to take the United States "Beyond Traffic," toward a transportation network that matches the changing geography of where people live and work; fosters innovation and adapts to evolving technology; and provides cleaner options and access to opportunity for people and communities across America.

What's happening in other States...

South Carolina needs billions for interstates
South Carolina's interstates will need almost $5 billion to address congestion problems over the next decade, funding the state does not now have, state highway department officials say.
That funding shortfall forecast came as state Department of Transportation officials briefed the entire Senate about how the agency works and how it spends its money as senators prepared to debate road funding legislation years in the making. Read more.

Florida looks to drivers' cell phones for congestion relief
More than a dozen central Florida cities are on board with a new program that would use cell phone pings to help control traffic. Congressman John Mica is trying to secure federal funding for a pilot program that would mimic systems in New York City and Washington, D.C. Read more.

Oil slump hits DOTs in Oklahoma, North Dakota 
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and most other state agencies would see their fiscal 2017 state discretionary appropriations cut by 6 percent amid falling receipts from oil and natural gas output, under a budget proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin. Read more.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered government agencies to reduce their planned spending to help close a $1 billion state budget shortfall as revenues shrink amid falling oil prices and a decline in oil drilling in the nation's second-largest producing state. Read more.

Missouri GOP pushes no-tax transportation funding plan
Top Republicans are pitching a plan to fix Missouri roads and bridges with money being saved by cuts to welfare programs. Rather than raise the state's fuel tax, GOP leaders say recent changes in programs for poor people will allow the state to generate $1 billion to $2 billion for road programs over the next decade. Read more.

Tennessee looks to private sector for Nashville mass transit projects
With multiple Middle Tennessee mayors on hand, state lawmakers rolled out legislation Wednesday they say could set a framework for future mass transit projects in the Nashville region and send a signal to the private sector to be part of it. Read more.

Signs of Change just ahead
FHWA does an about-face on highway sign fonts

Highway Gothic vs. Clearview
Signs in the Highway Gothic font (left) will replace signs in Clearview (right)

The feds are doing a U-turn on highway signage.

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration announced last month that Highway Gothic will be the only approved font, or typeface, for U.S. highways. The announcement represents an about-face for the agency, which offered the Clearview font as an alternative to states in 2004.

DOTD traffic operations manager Darrell Johnson estimated that 30-40 percent of all directional and mile marker signs on Louisiana interstates and state highways now carry the Clearview font. FHWA sign guidelines do not require states to swap out signs just because of the font they use, but as they need to be replaced, the new fonts are used on the replacement signs. Johnson said DOTD will reluctantly begin using Highway Gothic again.

"The staff and I think the Clearview font is much better," Johnson said. "We think the kerning, the cutting of the points and, especially with the brighter material, it made the signs easier to read. The Highway (Gothic) font sometimes had a halo effect."

DOTD has hundreds of thousands of signs across the state, Johnson said. Just the interstate system has about 55,000 directional and mile marker signs, and other state routes probably average about 25 miles per sign, he said.

FHWA had given "interim approval" to Clearview because it believed the new font would increase readability on roads, especially for older drivers. The difference can easily be seen on the letters "e" and "a," which have more open space in Clearview. However, FHWA says more recent tests indicate that the increased readability simply may have been a function of replacing old, faded signs with newer signs.

"After more than a decade of analysis, we learned, among other things, that Clearview actually compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs," FHWA spokesperson Doug Hecox said in explaining the decision to revoke the interim approval for Clearview.

Not everyone agrees. Donald Meeker, who helped develop the Clearview font specifically for highway signs, was understandably unhappy.

"Helen Keller can tell you from the grave that Clearview looks better," Meeker told Citylab.com.

To read more about this, click on this article from Citylab.com.

This newsletter is a publication of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association.

P.O. Box 3713
Baton Rouge, LA 70821

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The Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association newsletter is written and produced by Lambert Media, a communications consulting firm.

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