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Transportation Officials Want to Increase Mississippi’s Gas Tax to Pay for Infrastructure Needs

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 04 Mar 2013 06:34pm | comments
Transportation officials say 40 percent of Mississippi's major roads and 28 percent of its highways are in poor or mediocre condition.

Top transportation officials say Mississippi's major roadways, highways and bridges are ailing and in desperate need of repair. And as MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports experts are looking closely at ways to fix the problem.  

Transportation officials say 40 percent of Mississippi's major roads and 28 percent of its highways are in poor or mediocre condition.  Dick Hall, Transportation Commissioner for Mississippi's Central District says with nearly a fourth of  the states bridges deemed deficient or obsolete there is plenty of room for concern.

"We finally did something better that our sister states have done it and then its paid for. So to sit there and let an investment that you have already paid for deteriorate  is absolutely stupid. So people have got to realize that if you are going to maintain them you've got to pay for it. And the situation is they're in fairly good shape right now but they're going to rapidly going to deteriorate if we don't take care of them."

Mississippi's excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel has been 18.8 cents per gallon since 1987.  House transportation Chairman Robert Johnson of Natchez filed a bill this year to increase the tax  to address infrastructure needs.  He conceded to members of the Stennis Institute of Government's Press Luncheon in Jackson yesterday that the increase is not likely to happen this year. Still Johnson says he will continue to raise the issue until a solution is found.

"If you don't do anything to improve your infrastructure, roads, wastewater systems, bridges those kind of things then your economy won’t grow. And that's been an economic observation  over years and years of research and experience. And so I just want to be a part of helping alleviate poverty or helping alleviate unemployment in the state of Mississippi. And the first thing you have to look at is your infrastructure and I wanna see if we can help do that."   

The need for improved infrastructure in the state has also caught the attention of Joel Yelverton, Executive Director of the Mississippi Railroad Association.

"One of the biggest users of rail is intermodal. That's the trailers that you see on the back of trucks they off load it from  a rail over to a truck and the truck takes it on to its destination. So trucking is a big part of the railroads and the railroad system in this state."

Experts say additional improvements in Mississippi's infrastructure will continue to attract high profile companies like Nissan, Toyota and Severstal.  Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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Transportation officials say 40 percent of Mississippi's major roads and 28 percent of its highways are in poor or mediocre condition.


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