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Author Topic: Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough  (Read 539 times)

bwana39

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Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough
« on: December 14, 2023, 12:29:40 PM »

Louisiana highways are so rough because of the methods they use to build them. Many states used to do a similar build scheme, but most of them have gone to different methods. This seems particularly problematic in Northern Louisiana.

We can all remember going down the highway and hearing the rhythmic slap as the tires in turn hit each of the rubber or asphalt expansion joint fillers between each concrete slab. These fillers kind of bridged the joints and helped to hold them together.  In most places, the concrete is poured continuously today. Louisiana continues to pour theirs in 16-20 foot slabs. What makes the roads so rough is these slabs get out of alignment with one another.  The result is a rough transition from one slab to another and even breakage from the percussion / concussion of traffic. (As a positive when it breaks the worst of the contact subsides until the concrete comes out in chunks.) Louisiana does not seem to use a joint filler.

Louisiana has a great temporary fix to realign unbroken slabs. They cut two 8"x 12" holes in the concrete. They put a specialized attachment on an excavator, realign, then pump cement / concrete under it, and go to the next one. This works well if they actually do it. They don't do it enough. There was a portion of I-49 south of Mira (north of Shreveport) that had been completed around 5 years when it was opened. A few month before they opened it, they had to realign a couple hundred of the slabs that had NEVER been driven on beyond incidental to construction. (This stretch was WELL sealed off you couldn't just go around a wooden barricade. The entrances and exits were fenced with gates that were secured with two locks and chains. )

I get the impression that they have continued to use this construction method throughout the state as the problem with pavement floating and breaking is of issue in south Louisiana especially when there are floods and hurricanes.

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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2023, 12:50:12 PM »

I kind of the dystopian beat up look on Louisiana freeways.  They have a certain early era Pure Potholes aesthetic that reminds me of when I was growing up in Michigan.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2023, 02:27:54 PM »

According to a website I frequent, Louisiana ranks 40th in highway performance and cost-effectiveness. Louisiana is next-to-last (49th place) in urban Interstate pavement condition, 47th in highway fatality rate, and is one of only eight states with more than 3% of its rural Interstates in poor condition: https://reason.org/transportation-news/surface-transportation-news-louisianas-decreasing-fuel-tax-revenue/. The website also has a study about converting Louisiana's per-gallon gas taxes into per-mile user fees: https://reason.org/wp-content/uploads/replacing-louisiana-motor-fuel-taxes.pdf. However, I'm not sure if the citizens of Louisiana would support such a conversion in transportation funding, even if it did improve the maintaining of Louisiana's road system.
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bwana39

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Re: Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2023, 04:01:27 PM »

According to a website I frequent, Louisiana ranks 40th in highway performance and cost-effectiveness. Louisiana is next-to-last (49th place) in urban Interstate pavement condition, 47th in highway fatality rate, and is one of only eight states with more than 3% of its rural Interstates in poor condition: https://reason.org/transportation-news/surface-transportation-news-louisianas-decreasing-fuel-tax-revenue/. The website also has a study about converting Louisiana's per-gallon gas taxes into per-mile user fees: https://reason.org/wp-content/uploads/replacing-louisiana-motor-fuel-taxes.pdf. However, I'm not sure if the citizens of Louisiana would support such a conversion in transportation funding, even if it did improve the maintaining of Louisiana's road system.

Louisiana would benefit as would most others if the motor fuels tax were at minimum the amount of the general sales tax. The current .2093 per gallon tax on fuels only surpasses the fuel cost  (including the Federal Fuels Tax ) and markup  when the price per gallon is less than 2.469 (on gasoline).  I know the idea of taxing taxes seems egregious to many of us, the fact is most of our imported goods are subject to import duties and taxes. We assume these duties as a part of the cost and don't seemingly demand that the sales tax be charged on the cost and markup BEFORE the cost of said duties are applied. This said, we frequently pay taxes on the costs of other taxes. It is just a part of doing business.

This is not any more complicated than setting the retail prices currently. It probably would shift the burden on collecting and reporting taxes (the fuels taxes are currently all collected and remitted by the fuels distributors.) There are workarounds that could be figured out how to keep this as the gateway.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2023, 04:10:52 PM by bwana39 »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2023, 08:56:07 AM »

According to a website I frequent, Louisiana ranks 40th in highway performance and cost-effectiveness. Louisiana is next-to-last (49th place) in urban Interstate pavement condition, 47th in highway fatality rate, and is one of only eight states with more than 3% of its rural Interstates in poor condition: https://reason.org/transportation-news/surface-transportation-news-louisianas-decreasing-fuel-tax-revenue/. The website also has a study about converting Louisiana's per-gallon gas taxes into per-mile user fees: https://reason.org/wp-content/uploads/replacing-louisiana-motor-fuel-taxes.pdf. However, I'm not sure if the citizens of Louisiana would support such a conversion in transportation funding, even if it did improve the maintaining of Louisiana's road system.

Ahhhh, yes, Reason's Robert Poole off the top rope with the "toll every freeway in Louisiana with GeauxPass" approach. Yeah....no; not even close. They can't even toll the proposed Calcasieu River Bridge replacement on I-10 without the trucker haulers raising hell. And, they tried that nonsense for funding I-49 South, and got completely booted out because the tolls wouldn't even come to half what would be needed to complete the upgrade, and would not even be feasible for the segments through Lafayette. Did his proposals include bringing back toll collection on the Crescent City Connection too?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2023, 09:02:27 AM by Anthony_JK »
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Anthony_JK

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Re: Why Louisiana Freeways are so rough
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2023, 09:20:52 AM »

I would counter that a better alternative would be something like bwana's idea of a motor fuels tax set to at least the level of the sales tax (which would also include a slightly less fuel user tax for EV's, since why should they escape?) used to prime a dedicated trust fund committed only to upgrading and modestly expanding the core Louisiana freeway system, similar to what the TIMED tax was supposed to do.

Use that to fund overhauls of the entire Louisiana freeway system: 3x3 widening of I-10/I-12/I-20 with proper standards; completing needed megaprojects (like a free Calcasieu River Bridge, I-49 South, the Shreveport I-49 ICC (or, if that fails, upgrading the Inner Loop & I-220 as a bypass), a true freeway bypass of Baton Rouge, a Lake Charles/Alexandria/Monroe/Bastrop/Pine Bluff freeway extension of I-530 using US 165 and an Alex/Pineville bypass,  & even completing I-69 at least to near Haughton if Arkansas doesn't want to finish their section). Continue transferring as many state roadways as feasible to the parishes for maintenance; concentrate state/fed funding on upkeep of the core system. Whatever methods they use for fixing the roads, they certainly need to do more of them.
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