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Commissioners Call on State Leaders to Provide Steady Funding

BATESVILLE, Miss.–You could see roads and bridges deteriorate even more than they already have if the state doesn’t allot the Mississippi Dept. of Transportation a steady source of money, said Northern District Transportation Commissioner John Caldwell, in a Tuesday press conference. He, along with the commissioners from the central and southern districts, called on the state legislature to make that a priority.
“The increased usage, lower revenue and inflation are creating a dire situation for our infrastructure,” he said. “The cost of maintaining our system has risen like everything else. The lottery funds from the 2018 special session are helping. But, we still fall woefully short on the dollars needed to keep our roads in good repair.”
The lottery brings about $80 million to the pot for transportation each year. The other steady funding source is the gas tax. But, that formula hasn’t been changed since 1987.
Caldwell points out that cars use less fuel now and so that doesn’t bring in nearly as much money.
“If we don’t fix our roads and bridges, no one else is gonna come behind us and do it,” he said. “We’re losing economic development prospects because we don’t have the capacity. I-55 North is a great example of that, and the struggle is they’re going to come in with another 500 to 1,000 more trucks per day. They want to know that truck can get on the interstate and move, not get on the interstate and park.”
He said the loss of solid infrastructure will mean the loss of big economic projects. Delta lawmakers have lodge complaints that the Delta and areas west of I-55 are neglected anyway, when it comes to those large-scale ventures.