MISSISSIPPI ECONOMIC COUNCIL
Through extensive research, the Mississippi Economic Council’s Blueprint Mississippi Transportation Infrastructure Task Force has determined it is vital that Mississippi increase its investment in state and local transportation infrastructure. The Task Force understands that an investment in transportation is needed for the following reasons: increased vehicle fuel efficiency and inflation are shrinking the purchasing power of our current revenue; an expanding number of highways, roads, and bridges in poor or deficient condition is risking the safety of our drivers and handicapping businesses with a deteriorating system of receiving and delivering goods and products; and ignoring the problem now will only lead to exponentially greater costs for maintenance and rehabilitation in the future.
Just as important, Mississippi motorists will be adversely affected by lack of action through higher costs for vehicle wear and tear, longer commuting times, and greater likelihood for accidents. Taking action now to preserve our transportation infrastructure will generate long-term benefits for all Mississippians. As a rural state, transportation is vital to securing the economic health of our small towns and farms. Moreover, a well maintained transportation system improves safety and health, encourages growth, reduces the costs of goods and services for all businesses, though especially for our manufacturing and agricultural industries, and creates additional opportunities for tourism and leisure activities.
Current funding levels are not adequate to maintain today’s conditions – in fact, state and local governments cannot even maintain our roads and bridges at their current ratings, but rather they are merely managing the decline of our existing system and doing their best to slow the deterioration of our vital transportation network.
This 10-year plan outlined by the Task Force will not address all needs, but will accelerate the current plan and put Mississippi on a solid foundation for preserving our transportation infrastructure and provide meaningful long-term results.
Mississippi currently has 24,591 lane miles of state-owned highways in need of preventative maintenance, minor rehabilitation, or major rehabilitation. The estimated cost of this work is $2.23 billion. As of June 2015, the state owns 936 bridges that are in some state of disrepair, of which 191 are posted, meaning they can no longer handle the weight and traffic they were designed to carry. The estimated amount to repair these bridges is
$2.63 billion. At the county and municipal level, the cost to repair just the 13,192 locally-owned roads and highways that are in very poor condition is $607 million. Finally, there are 2,989 local substandard bridges, including 2,200 posted bridges that cannot carry the weight they were designed to handle. The current cost to replace these bridges is $1.14 billion.
The recommendation of the Task Force is to focus on replacing all of the state bridges that can’t carry the weight and traffic they were built to accommodate, as well as addressing the most vital pavement needs through rehabilitation and maintenance. This will allow us to catch up over the next 10 years, and develop a stable program for future needs. Meanwhile, this will enable local officials to address their most pressing transportation needs.
To help us navigate through all the data, the Task Force retained four consulting organizations with specialties in transportation: the Center for Logistics, Trade & Transportation at the University of Southern Mississippi, the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, Cambridge Systematics in Atlanta, and the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department and Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University.
The research teams, working closely with the Task Force Research Subcommittee, examined current needs, developed estimates of future demands on the system over the next ten years, and assessed existing revenues and current spending by MDOT and local governing authorities. Using the analysis provided by these consultants, which is outlined in the Facts & Findings section of this report, the MEC Blueprint Mississippi Transportation Infrastructure Task Force determined that $375 million in new revenue – $300 million for state needs and $75 million for local needs – is required each year to respond to our immediate transportation needs.
Improving Mississippi’s Transportation Infrastructure will provide economic benefits, provide savings for motorists and prevent even greater costs that would accrue to future taxpayers. For these reasons, the Blueprint Task Force believes increased funding for transportation is one of the most important investments the state could make for its citizens.
About the Mississippi Economic Council
The Mississippi Economic Council has been the voice of Mississippi business since 1949. MEC deals with broad issues that relate to businesses through advocacy, research, resources and leadership. MEC has more than 11,000 members from 1,100 member firms throughout Mississippi.