Maintenance of our roads requires money

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

There is growing and reasonable frustration with the slow progress of the Highway 11 expansion.

We’re told the delays are due to environmental surveying and utility relocations and land acquisitions but, mostly, the delays are due to money.

Building highways is expensive, and the fact is, Mississippi has more highways than it can adequately maintain with its current budget.

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This is troubling because not only do better roads prevent traffic congestion, they move tremendous amounts of goods across our state and in so doing, they facilitate some of the most important sectors in our economy: farming and manufacturing.

Crumbling highways and, worse, bridges that grow weaker each year, are already hurting our state’s economy. Business groups are howling for fixes and things will not get better without some serious fixes. Manufacturers will not move to a state where they can’t transport their goods across the state so it is possible some businesses could leave if things get worse. And things will get worse as lower fuel prices encourage more people to drive more places.

To put it simply, we need our legislature to provide the money necessary to fix our streets. For years, state lawmakers have trumpeted lean expenses and budget surpluses.

We suggest the folks in Jackson, rather than talk tax rebates, as they are wont to do, focus on spending our tax monies wisely on infrastructure.

In addition, during an era of unprecedented cheap gasoline, a slight raise in the 18.4-cent per gallon fuel tax to 20.4-cents per gallon would put us in line with Louisiana and also provide nearly $6 million in extra road revenue, based on the 2014 gasoline taxes collected. In addition, the two-cent bump would hardly be felt, as it would raise the total taxes of filling a 14-gallon tank from $2.52 to $2.80.

Nobody likes paying more at the pump, but the reality is, if we don’t come up with some money to take care of the roads, our state’s economy will be worse off for it.