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Senate Leadership to Unveil Infrastructure Plan Soon

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Senate Leadership to Unveil Infrastructure Plan Soon
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Bridge Collapse in Carroll County, 2015
Miss. Dept. of Transportation

A Mississippi legislator says the leadership in the state senate is working on a bill it'll reveal soon to fix crumbling roads and bridges. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

President Trump's newly released $1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure plan calls for states and private investors to pay the bulk of the bill for improvements. In the past the split has been the federal government pays 80 percent and states pay 20. This plan is different. It includes $100 billion in matching funds to states and cities. There's a $50 billion rural block grant and a federal loan program for profitable projects. Mississippi would benefit from the grant if the state can pay the match. Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland chairs the transportation committee.

"That match ranges anywhere from 20 percent to 80 percent or as high as 90 percent. The higher the match the greater the challenge is for Mississippi to be able to assess those funds," said Simmons.

The feds have closed more than 300 dangerous bridges in the state. The Mississippi Economic Council says it would take $375 million over ten years to fix crumbling infrastructure. Simmons says the state can't afford to wait on Congress to review the president's plan. He says the senate leadership is working on a bill they'll unveil soon. Senator Buck Clarke of Hollandale chairs the appropriations committee. He says it's prudent to wait and see what Congress will do first.

"We see what they're offering right now that could change drastically and we shouldn't go jumping in. We need to make sure it dovetails so that we get the best bang for the buck," said Clarke.

In a statement Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves says he believes lawmakers can address road and bridge maintenance in this legislative session. On the other hand, Governor Phil Bryant says in a statement says he'd like to wait for the federal plan to be finalized before the legislature acts on proposals.