$375 Million needed to maintain Mississippi’s roads, bridges - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

$375 Million needed to maintain Mississippi’s roads, bridges

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Economic Council's Blueprint Mississippi Transportation Infrastructure Task Force released a report Dec. 18 claiming an additional $375 million annually is needed to address the most vital road and bridge needs in Mississippi at the state and local level.

“As I drive across our state, today, I see first-hand that we are on the verge of losing our competitive edge. The massive investment that was made in our state’s transportation system as a result of the 1987 AHEAD program will be lost,” said Joe F. Sanderson, Chairman & CEO of Sanderson Farms, and chair of the Blueprint Task Force.

The Blueprint Study determined 80 percent of the new revenue, $300 million, should be dedicated to state-owned bridge and road needs.

Counties and municipalities should receive the remaining 20 percent to be split between them, both receiving $37.5 million.

A $375 million annual investment would:

  • Enable the replacement of 138 state posted bridges – those that are no longer able to carry the weight and traffic they were designed to carry.
  • Provide that all timber bridges would also be replaced.
  • Replace another 424 deficient state bridges during the 10-year time frame.
  • Ramp up the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s pavement maintenance across the state.
  • Enable local leaders to address the roads and bridges that are in the worst conditions.

“Dedicating this new revenue to state and local bridge replacement and road maintenance will stabilize our state’s transportation system and put us on the path to protecting our investment,” said Scott Waller, Executive Vice President and COO of MEC, who served as chief staff support for the study’s research team and the Blueprint Task Force.

MEC President & CEO Blake Wilson said the value of implementing the Blueprint Task Force recommendation of investing $375 million annually would not only address Mississippi’s deteriorating roads and bridges, but would also provide a direct return on investment to those using the transportation system.

“For Mississippians to make this investment in assuring safer roads and bridges – it would take just 37 cents a day, per registered vehicle,” Wilson said. “And as the improvements are made over time, this investment would produce a return of $1.45 a day in reduced drive-time, maintenance and wear and tear, according to economic models.”

MEC also announced the formation of ‘Excelerate Mississippi’, a program designed to support the initiatives outlined by the Blueprint Task Force.

‘Excelerate Mississippi’ is ramping up the conversation about the need for making an investment today in our highway system that will bring meaningful economic returns in the decade to come, and for many decades beyond, Wilson said.

“Just remember, this isn’t someone else’s issue, it is your issue,” Wilson said. “We are talking about a crumbling road and bridge system. These aren’t other people’s roads and bridges; these are your roads and bridges. You are all driving on them every day.”

A scientific poll commissioned by MEC and conducted by Southern Research Group of Jackson  showed overwhelming support for quality roads and bridges and for a 10-year plan to address this need.

The full report, lists of deficient state and local bridges by county, as well as state pavement conditions by county are all available at www.exceleratems.com.

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