State lawmakers look for ways to fund repairs for local bridges

State lawmakers look for ways to fund repairs for local bridges

COVINGTON COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The integrity of several bridges in the Magnolia state has come into question, including a 60-year-old bridge in Covington County that cuts through State Highway 590 over Curry Creek.

According to Mississippi Today, some of the issues are severe deterioration, rusting and the need of basic repairs.

"We're doing everything we know to do in keeping it safe and have been for the past few years," Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King said.

King said a few repairs have been done to keep the bridge safe.

"It's one of the oldest bridges in the area, matter of fact, at the end of this month it will be replaced," King said.

King said almost a thousand bridges across the state need to be replacement or repair and finance for infrastructure is critical.

This year, the Senate advanced a bill that would increase infrastructure spending, but State Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Miss., said finding a way to fund the increase was difficult.

"We passed one of the largest tax cuts in state history this past session and it will expand over about 15 years," Fillingane said. "It's a $400 million tax cut."

Funding suggestions included a gas tax, extra annual license tag fees and a general sales tax increase.

"I don't think it's fair to put on any one industry or any one user, but if we spread the paint out among any number of taxes then it becomes a lot more palatable and a lot easier to pass quite frankly," Fillingane said.

The Mississippi Economic Council researched with The University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University for over a year, and they suggested that the legislature raise the appropriation for MDOT by $375 million.

King and Fillingane said MDOT and the legislature look forward to working together to find a way to fund repairs for Mississippi bridges and highways.