Mississippi Transportation Leaders Issue More Warnings About The Federal Highway Trust FundBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Jul 2014 04:09pm |
Photo-Flikr Kyle May
Mississippi is poised to spend an additonal 32-million dollars on roads and bridges thanks to recent growth in the state's revenue. however, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, a larger infrastructure crisis could be brewing on the horizon.
The additional money is flowing to counties because of a deal struck at the end of the most recent legislative session which promised more spending if revenue grew before the end of the fiscal year.
That's good news, says Mike Pepper with the Mississippi Road Builders Association, but he is still concerned about the federal highway trust fund which could begin to run dry by August.
"Everything is driving by the federal dollars and how we much that in the state. We will more about that after a meeting with our members and MDOT. And hopefully we will know more about that on the federal level and come up with a comprehensive plan to address these needs," Pepper said.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is putting out dire warnings saying it could be necessary to stop the bidding process on all state funded maintenance projects by the middle of this month.
Joe McGee, who runs Joe McGee constructions, says a solution is necessary because the state is already millions of dollars behind on existing infrastructure needs.
"This is critical because those funds are dependent here as match funds to just maintain and keep up what we have," McGee said.
Roughly half of the nearly 1-billion dollar M-DOT budget comes from the federal government.
House transportation committee chairman Robert Johnson of Natchez says he is concerned but also hopeful that a solution could be coming soon.
"And if we don't get any federal funding just thing about what we can't do. We are keeping our eye very closely on what is happening in Washington. And encouraging our delegation to at least get us through this year. And we have some indication that that is going to happen," Johnson said.
Johnson says there is little appetite in the state to increase the gas tax, meaning the only way to catch up on infrastructure needs could be to spend excess money such as the 32-million that was triggered this month.
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