A U.S. Department of Transportation report recently graded Mississippi’s inventory of bridges among the worst. It says more than 3,000 of about 17,000 of the state's bridges are rated structurally deficient, dangerously dilapidated, or functionally obsolete.
In a report released last week, the Mississippi Economic Council is suggesting the legislature provide an additional 375 million per year to the State Department of Transportation....cities and counties would split 75-million.
Joe Sanderson is CEO of Sanderson Farms and chairman of the task force that released the report. He says the $375 million would help where immediate repairs are needed - saying this is probably the most affordable amount that the Legislation can handle.
"Construction costs have gone up 200%. The usage of our roads have increased by 90%, and Mississippi is losing an economic development edge. We have to do something about that," says Sanderson.
Other transportation leaders have estimated the state needs $600 million a year to keep up with maintenance.
Scott Waller is with the MEC. He says all costs aside, safety is a main concern.
"Right now there was a story in a PEER Report that came out a couple of weeks ago. Buses are having to reroute to avoid bad bridges. Now, this is children we're talking about. We have to protect their safety," Waller says.
The task force is offering lawmakers a "menu" of possible taxes and fees to consider, in an effort to raise the $375 million. One suggestion is a $10 fee increase on vehicle license plates, which could generate about $27 million.