Louisiana is not generally known for its success in economic development terms, and post-Katrina the nation’s view of Louisiana as corruption-ridden and inefficient has (justifiably) grown considerably worse. Update: I hope Bobby Jindal’s election represents a turning of the page in this regard!
I thought I’d highlight an area of economic development success for Louisiana government and for the current governor’s administration in particular. Kathleen Blanco appointed Johnny Bradberry, a former energy company executive, as head of the Louisiana Department of Transportation at the beginning of 2004. Bradberry has done an excellent job at the La. DOTD, and has specifically driven forward the TIMED program, which is responsible for widening key highways throughout Louisiana from two to four lanes.
This may not sound like a considerable accomplishment, but Louisiana’s highway system is antiquated in comparison with many states, where all major highways have four or more lanes throughout their length. The four-laning of US 165, for instance, will create a much faster truck route between Houston and Memphis, generating additional commerce throughout central Louisiana.
By 2010 almost all major TIMED programs are expected to be completed, with many projects finished ahead of schedule. The Louisiana DOTD has also been able to successfully expedite the construction of a new, wider set of I-10 spans across the mouth of Lake Pontchartrain, accelerating the return of normalcy in the post-Katrina New Orleans area. With all the pessimism regarding Louisiana’s recovery from the 2005 hurricanes, I’m happy to give Johnny Bradberry and his team at the La. DOTD credit for improving transportation infrastructure in Louisiana.