The Mississippi Department of Transportation says there's more than a $2 billion dollar gap between how much road paving the state needs over the next five years - and how much money there is to pay for it.
MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, with transportation funding likely to continue falling short of needs, planners want to hear what the public thinks should be top priorities over the next 25 years.
MDOT and metropolitan planning organizations around the state are putting together long-range plans looking at transportation needs through 2040.
David Taylor is planning director for the Gulf Regional Planning Commission, which covers the gulf coast. He says the process, which takes place every five years, is crucial because it's linked to federal funding.
"Basically anything that's going to be funded in the future with federal transportation dollars - which is the bulk of what happens transportation-wise - has to be listed in the long-range plan," he says.
The statewide plan put together by M-DOT will look more at overall strategies and priorities. MDOT says that overall, transportation needs in the state are far outpacing expected funding. With this tension in mind, planners want to know what Mississippians think the priorities should be. Sammy Holcomb is with MDOT.
"We want to get some feedback from the public about what they think is important, what are priorities, what some deficiencies are, in this region and even statewide," says Sammy Holcomb, with MDOT.
MDOT and the local planning groups are holding meetings throughout the state to get the public’s feedback. Bill Hager, who attended a meeting in Bay St. Louis, says he’d like to see better access to water activities and safer routes for bicyclists and walkers, both for residents and tourists.
"We really and truly want to make it a safe and comfortable place for people to visit - without getting ran over," he says.
There will be public meetings this week in Tupelo, Clarksdale and Jackson. The public can also comment online at http://mississippitransportationplan.mindmixer.com/.