State task force on highways will hold town hall meetings - - The News for South Mississippi

State task force on highways will hold town hall meetings

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A state task force says maintaining a good road and highway system will pave the way to a successful Mississippi future. But the current system has deficiencies.

Central Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said, "We made this major investment. What are we going to do to protect it?"

The state's 4-lane highway system ranks highly but the roads that serve as major arteries to them are failing.

"We do not have monies to build new highways nor do we have money to maintain the highways and bridges that we have. And when you look at the problem with state aid, as well as state highways. Our bridges, we have over 2,000 bridges on the deficiencies list," said Senator Willie Simmons, Chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee.

Since 1987, the state has used a flat rate fuel tax; 18 cents a gallon goes towards highway maintenance. Despite rising fuel costs through the years, the numbers have stayed the same.

The task force will research options of how funding can be increased in the future.

The Mississippi Development Authority says it's also a matter of maintaining economic growth.  

"One of the main things companies look for in addition to great workforce and a great business climate is a good transportation system," said MDA's chief financial officer, Kathy Gelston.

The task force will go beyond the capitol in the coming months. They'll go into communities statewide for input at townhall meetings.

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