Transportation Secretary Promises Funds For Broken Roads - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/13/05

Transportation Secretary Promises Funds For Broken Roads

MDOT's Butch Brown was Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta's tour guide as they walked along broken Highway 90 just west of Gulfport's Grand Casino. That's where they saw crews gutting part of the casino's barge to get it off the highway.

Brown told Mineta, "We wanted to get all the money and the slot machines and everything outta the machines."

The huge steel barge is one of many obstacles Mineta saw that cripples this once busy beachfront artery. With the media following, he jumped into a van, taking a drive along the beach.

"Is there any chance right now in terms of acquiring additional right of way?" Mineta asked.

Brown replied, "If we do that Mr. Secretary one of the problems with that, as you know, is the environmental issues and right of way acquisition issues."

The next stop was the crushed Biloxi/Ocean Springs bridge. It's the secretary's first ground view of the battered roads and bridges. He says the devastation is unimaginable, but with the federal government's help it will be overcome.

"As I recall, for Mississippi, we're looking at something like $1.3 billion. You just don't have monies that are sitting there, but we have authorization under the law for this program called emergency relief funds, so we're appropriated a hundred million dollars annually."

The $1.3 billion is tapped for complete highway reconstruction and MDOT is already spending it.

Brown says, "Highway 90 we've been under contract now for almost a week and I'm proud to say I believe the 60 day window that I've imposed to get two lanes of traffic on the eastbound or seawall side open is largely do-able if not even sooner."

Brown says five contractors will put Highway 90 back together. Along with repairing Highway 90, Brown says the long I-10 bridge in Jackson County should reopen in about three weeks.

byMarcia Hill

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