JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Funding: that’s the number one thing on this year’s legislative wish list for the State Department of Transportation.
It’s no secret that repairing the state’s roads and bridges continues to be a big need.
“If you drive through I-55 in Desoto County, or if you’re driving in areas of 1-20 through the metro area, or over around Warren County, Vicksburg area,” said Brad White, Executive Director for MDOT. “If you go around on the Coast, some of our highly populated areas, traffic is a real issue and it’s because the traffic has exceeded the road’s capacity to adequately handle the amount of cars that are on it.”
White said the department is always searching for new ways to bring in revenue to fund the department and its capacity program.
That system is created to tackle different construction projects throughout the state.
However, due to a lack of funding, the department had to put that program on pause in order to have enough money to fix and repair the state’s highways and bridges.
“I don’t know how we can avoid going backwards without reevaluating how to fund this. And, again, I think there’s a way to do this without raising taxes,” White expressed.
In fact, the department has even come up with a few suggestions on how lawmakers could come up with the funding.
“We’ve asked what if the legislature was to give us an additional 15-percent of the use tax out of the current unobligated portion that’s going back into the general fund, and allow that to go along with the fuel tax to help fun the capacity program,” White explained. “What if they were to give us the unobligated portions of the gaming tax revenue that would help us take care of our paving and maintenance needs to keep the system current.”
White said MDOT leaders are in talks with state leaders and he’s hopeful they will be able to come up with the funding before the session ends.
“We have a need on the state system, the interstates, the state highways, the state bridges, that we need to be in a position where we are not only able to adequately maintain the investment the taxpayers currently have, but that we’re also able to continue to develop our projects around the state and our system around the state in a way that can handle the traffic not just today, but the traffic projections in the future,” the executive director said.
White said MDOT isn’t asking for a specific dollar amount, but they are asking for the funding they receive to be recurring coming in each year.
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