How safe are Mississippi's bridges and roads? - - Jackson, MS

How safe are Mississippi's bridges and roads?

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Have you ever wondered just how stable a bridge is or if it could be close to collapsing? Officials say there's over 1,000 deficient bridges across the Magnolia State. That's out of the 5,700 that MDOT inspects on a yearly basis.

Central Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall says it would cost $2.7 billion to replace those bridges, but that can't happen until the bank account allows for permanent repairs.

Meanwhile, those bridges will just see band-aid fixes. Sometimes, they can extend the bridge's life span by 20 years. Still if an inspection raises a serious red flag, it can't be ignored.

"We're going to fix that. Whatever we've got to take the money from wherever we've got to take it. We're going to fix it if it's a safety problem," explained Hall.

Hall's sounding the alarm on both those aging bridges and the highways.

"Problem now is we're having to take money from new construction and put it into maintenance," Hall said.

From hills in North Mississippi, to Yazoo clay around Jackson and water issues along the coast, MDOT has different battles to conquer across the state.

"We have a two-year revolving program for inspecting our roadways. Everything the surface of the roadway, the drainage system on the roadway, the slope in the road. Everything about and we give it a rating," described Hall. 

There are three levels:

  • High: When the roads present a danger or extreme delays for drivers
  • Medium: When they expect problems in the future
  • Low: Where the issues are minor and won't have significant impacts

But roads don't make it very far down the chain most of the time.

"The problem is you never get to the low priority. And the fact that you don't ever get to it, then all of a sudden, it evolves into a high priority project. Truth is, we're basically always working on the high priority," Hall said.

Commissioner Hall says a tax increase is the only way the state will be able to keep up with the demands of the deteriorating system and start new projects.

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