A bill authorizing $325 million of revenue bonds to upgrade Louisiana’s rural roads was sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal last week without receiving a single negative vote as it passed through the Legislature.

HB 783 directs the state to issue 20-year bonds supported by 50% of the revenue from fees and taxes on commercial trucks and trailers deposited into the State Highway Improvement Fund.

Jindal included the bond proposal in his 2012 legislative package.

Transportation Secretary Sherri LeBas said the current schedule calls for Louisiana to issue $100 million of the 20-year bonds in fiscal 2013, $100 million in 2014, and $125 million in 2015.

Bond proceeds would be used to finance resurfacing and upgrades to 1,100 miles of highway, with projects in every parish except Orleans Parish, LeBas said. Proceeds can be used only on state highways that are not eligible for federal matching grants.

Debt service on the bonds is expected to peak at $25 million a year, based on an average interest rate of 4.5% over the 20-year span.

Revenues supporting the road bonds are estimated at $51.8 million in fiscal 2013, growing to $58.5 million by fiscal 2016.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

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