LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) The state transportation department intends to speed up planned highway work, starting $120 million in road and bridge construction now that wasn’t set to begin for a few more years, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Dec. 15.
State Transportation and Development Secretary William Ankner said the state is using dollars left over from the 2007-08 and 2008-09 budget years and other available funds that had been banked in the treasury to start the construction work.
“We’ve got road projects that are sorely needed by the public,’’ Ankner said.
As he announced the plans at a Lafayette event, Jindal called the speed-up of the highway work a way to help the state economy and protect jobs.
Ankner said much of the money from previous budget years was available because of less-than-expected spending on travel, salaries and a variety of other costs.
The federal government will reimburse part of the spending because the money will be used for projects slated to receive federal road dollars in upcoming years, Ankner said. State lawmakers must approve some of the spending in the 2010 legislative session before it can begin.
Among the largest projects slated for construction with the money is a $23 million bridge replacement and widening in the Baton Rouge area over the Amite River, $17 million for road work on Interstate 49 in St. Landry Parish and $15 million for Interstate 55 work in Tangipahoa Parish.
All the projects were part of a three-year construction plan already approved by state lawmakers and federal officials, Ankner said.