- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Motorists soon may see an explosion of advertisements plastered on state roads, bridges and rest areas in Louisiana’s latest bid to raise cash during lean times.

Rhett Desselle, assistant secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1hIA1W8 ) funding for transportation has stagnated over the last several years.

“State agencies are just getting outside the box, thinking about how to raise money and pay for services,” Desselle said.

DOTD officials are seeking pitches from consultants who would oversee a campaign to open sponsorships to ferries, ferry terminals, toll plazas, rest areas, highway signs, traffic camera feeds, unique roads and bridges, scenic areas, buildings and even vests worn by state transportation workers.

The state already faces a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.

However, any money raised through advertisements would be used to defray agency operation expenses, not trim the state’s staggering backlog.

“If we find someone to sponsor a rest area, we would use the money to offset our operation costs of that rest area,” Desselle said.

He said part of the reason for the initial steps - called a request for information - is to hear from marketing consultants on how much money the effort might raise.

DOTD’s yearly operating expenses total about $350 million.

The agency is already collecting $250,000 per year for three years from State Farm in exchange for the insurance company attaching its name and logo to Motorist Assistant Patrol trucks, which help with traffic flow by aiding stalled motorists.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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