MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation reports Mississippi is the eighth worst state when it comes to the condition of its bridges. MDOT reports there are over 3,700 bridges considered deficient - or in poor condition - across the state. Some are in the Pine Belt.
MDOT's five-year plan has three parts.
- System preservation includes projects that maintain the state’s existing highway system. These projects typically include pavement rehabilitation, single lift overlays and bridge replacements.
- Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) projects implement safety improvements that reduce the number and severity of crashes at hazardous intersections or roadway sections. The projects include intersection improvements, shoulder widening, rumble strip installation, guardrail improvements, and cable-barrier installations.
- Highway capacity projects expand the state-owned highway system to accommodate population growth and increased economic development. Most capacity projects have been postponed since the current funding is used to preserve the existing state-owned highways.
MDOT released a map with the current projects needed in the state. The roads and bridges in blue are funded in the five-year the plan. The areas in red are unfunded bridges and/or pavement and capacity type projects.
"These roads that are in that plan and these bridges are in really bad shape," said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. "Bridges are structurally deficient, they can't carry loads. So it's important we repair to make sure our taxpayers, our citizens are safe."
Earlier this month, MDOT help a press conference on the need of funding in the state. At that time, officials said MDOT needs $400M to fund the necessary improvements.
"The bridges need to be repaired and replaced," said Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King, at the meeting. "I keep saying crisis, but that's what we're in."
"Top priority is always safety and with the amount of funding that we currently have," said McGrath. "If our bridges fail, then that's not safe."
MS Roads Matter is a public campaign to raise awareness of Mississippi's infrastructure issue. According to their website, a good transportation plan would produce 7,000 jobs in Mississippi each year.
And what about your wallet? MS Roads Matter reports a driver in Mississippi could save an average of $530 a year, "because bad roads cause flat tires, cracked windshields and damage alignments."
In early February, the department also shared an eight-year plan to improve rural roads across the state, but said they need more funding for over 500 projects. That includes 200 projects in South Mississippi.