A robust state surplus could pave the way for much-needed road improvements in Pointe Coupee Parish.

Pointe Coupee Parish President Major Thibaut told council members at their meeting Tuesday night that he road through the parish with state Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson to show him areas in needs of upgrades, both in terms of quality and safety.

Some of the upgrades could include dedicated turns on U.S. 190, an area which encounters enormous traffic pileups during closures of the Whiskey Bay span of Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

“I made sure to bring him on every bad patch along 190,” Thibaut said about the ride with Wilson.

A turning lane is funded on La. 978 at Bigman Lane in Livonia. Meanwhile, another J-turn could be in the works along U.S. 190 past the second red light.

A healthy state surplus makes it a good time for council members to reach out to state Rep. Jeremy LaCombe, D-Fordoche, and state Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, on road projects for the parish. Thibaut said.

New revenue projections the state Revenue Estimating Conference approved Tuesday give the state an additional $1.6 billion to spend over the next year.

The state expects to collect more than $1.2 billion in general fund revenue than projected in the current budget cycle, and $770 million more in the next cycle, which starts July 1.  

The revenue comes mostly from personal income taxes and sales taxes, which have been higher than expected.

About $275 million will be set aside for dedicated funds, and $400 million will be used to pay down the federal loan the state received to rebuild the levee system after Hurricane Katrina.

The remaining $850 million will be available for the Legislature and Gov. John Bel Edwards to divvy up during the next regular session, which is slated to begin in March.