Mississippi DOT on Federal Funding Delays Creating Safety Hazards and Halting Progress
JACKSON, Miss., March 20, 2015—If U.S. Congress does not take action with regard to the Highway Trust Fund, the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) main focus will continue to shift toward system preservation, and the backlog of highway and bridge projects will continue to grow.
Transportation construction costs have grown more than 300 percent over the past several years, which presents a significant hurdle to MDOT’s ability to fund new projects such as capacity upgrades. The federal surface transportation authorization is scheduled to expire in May, and the Highway Trust Fund is expected to be depleted again this summer.
“If Congress doesn’t address long-term infrastructure needs, our transportation network is going to continue to deteriorate,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “This delay is not only halting progress, but it will eventually create safety hazards for the traveling public.”
So, what is at risk for Mississippi if the funding crisis is not solved? MDOT receives $432 million in federal highway funding of which $90 million passes through to local governments. The state stands to lose $27.6 million in federal transit funding from the Highway Trust Fund. In addition to financial assistance, 6,500 jobs in Mississippi are tied to transportation.
“Mississippi is at risk of losing a great deal if the Highway Trust Fund is depleted, and our transportation network is going to continue to deteriorate,” McGrath said. “The state’s construction industry will lose experienced, trained workers without funding for work and jobs.”
As Congress considers how to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is launching a multimedia campaign that calls on lawmakers to focus on long-term needs rather than short-term fixes.
AASHTO’s “Nation at a Crossroads” campaign urges officials to consider what is achievable in remaking transportation to aid in our quality of life and commerce, rather than patch problem areas with funding that is too low to keep pace. MDOT, along with other states, is urging policymakers to consider long-term needs, because the pattern of short-term funding actions is hampering state’s abilities to plan for the next construction season.
To view more about AASHTO’s “Nation at a Crossroads” campaign and see the impact on Mississippi, visit http://invest.transportation.org.