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Mississippi Senate Committee discusses...

Mississippi Senate Committee discusses critical infrastructure needs in the state

By: Anne Summerhays - November 9, 2021

Highways and Transportation Committee hears from 6 speakers on the status on infrastructure in Mississippi. 

Today, the Mississippi Senate Highways and Transportation Committee met to discuss critical infrastructure needs in Mississippi. The senators gathered information from a panel of speakers about the status of infrastructure in Mississippi, specifically regarding bridges and roads.

This meeting comes days after the U.S. House passed President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure spending package.

In a statement on Saturday, the Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, Tyree Irving, stated that the state of Mississippi is expected to receive $3.3 billion to improve highways and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs  over five years.

Each speaker that the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee heard from on Tuesday discussed the critical needs and challenges that comes with addressing Mississippi’s bridges, roads, and highways.

Speakers included:

  • Derrick Surrette, Executive Director of Mississippi Supervisors Association
  • Jacob Forrester, P.E., Assistant General Manager Starkville Utilities, Advocacy Captain, Mississippi Section of ASCE, State Engineers Association
  • Harry Lee James, State Aid Engineer of Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction
  • Brad White, Executive Director of Mississippi Department of Transportation
  • Frank Howell, Chief Executive Officer of Delta Council
  • Mike McCormick, President of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
2020 Mississippi Infrastructure Report Card, American Society of Civil Engineers 2020

In a 2020 report conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Forrester presented that Mississippi’s infrastructure received a score of D+ on an A-F letter scale. Both bridges and roads in Mississippi of D-.

Nearly 40% of major urban road miles in Mississippi are in poor condition, double the national rate.

Surrett, with the Mississippi’s Supervisors Association, explained that county governments have roughly 52,000 road miles that they have to maintain. He noted a survey conducted a couple of years ago where they found that 76% of those road miles need some time of maintenance and improvement while 46% of those roads need repair.

Though this report was conducted years prior, Surrett said that the numbers have not changed significantly. In his presentation, he stated that of the 52,000 miles that counties maintain, it costs $100,000 per mile to overlay a road and that is just maintenance. For the 46% of roads that need repair, it would cost counties $250,000 per mile.

Executive Director White with the Mississippi Department of Transportation recognized the money coming into the state with President Biden’s infrastructure spending package. He said that it is important for the Department to work hand in hand with the Mississippi Legislature so that when the money is appropriated, the taxpayers will get the most out of it.

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth.