MDOT: Funding needed to repair and replace MS bridges and roads

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - According to a recent national study, many of Mississippi's roadways and bridges are not up to par. The 2013 National Bridge Inventory conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation said drivers travel over the state's 2,274 structurally compromised bridges more than 1.2 million times every day. The study found that 13 percent of Mississippi's 17,044 bridges need to be replaced.

A report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association ranks Mississippi number 10 nationally in number of structurally deficient bridges and number 14 in percentage of deficient bridges.

"The report shows that the time for action is now, not years down the deteriorated road," said Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Melinda McGrath.

According to MDOT, the agency maintains 5, 731 bridges and 29,000 highway miles resulting in a $450 million per year investment in roadway maintenance. In 2013, MDOT spent $64 million to replace 14 structurally deficient bridges across the state. McGrath says the millions spent on repairing the bridges and roadways are just simply not enough.

"With the current level of funding for roadway and bridge maintenance, conditions will get worse before they get better," said McGrath.

McGrath said the deficient bridges are not only unsafe, but the lack of repairs could put a strain on the infrastructure and economy of Mississippi.

"The downgrading of posted weight limits on deficient bridges will force local businesses and school buses to seek alternate routes and hinder the delivery of goods and people in a timely manner," said McGrath. "The need for vehicle repairs will also rise and place further financial burdens on citizens. If the call for additional support is left unchecked, the lifeline for our local and national economy will be in jeopardy."

The good news is help could be on the way. A proposed transportation bill was sent to Congress in April that includes a four year, $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal.

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