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MDOT Urges the Legislature to Allocate More State Funding

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (Credits: WCBI)

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) held a press conference in Jackson, Mississippi, addressing what they described as a critical funding crisis for infrastructure.

Tensions were palpable as MDOT commissioners urged legislators for increased state funding, citing the inadequacy of their current revenue sources, particularly the fuel tax.

The press conference featured MDOT commissioners John Caldwell, Willie Simmons, and Charles Busby, who passionately appealed to state officials for urgent action.

Caldwell emphasized the legislators’ expressed desire to improve highways but underscored the necessity for tangible steps to match these sentiments. He urged, “You want to fix the highways. I know you do, dammit, you told me, but you got to do it.”

MDOT commissioners (Credits: Magnolia Tribune)

MDOT highlighted the central issue of the diminishing effectiveness of the fuel tax as a revenue source. Commissioner Busby explained that modern vehicles’ greater fuel efficiency has reduced fuel taxes’ revenue over time.

He noted the contrast between fuel taxes paid in 1987 and today, emphasizing that individuals now pay less despite increased usage of state roads and bridges. MDOT stressed the urgent need for annual recurring revenue streams to sustainably address infrastructure needs.

Commissioner Simmons echoed this sentiment, acknowledging the one-time funds granted by the Legislature but emphasizing the inadequacy of such measures for long-term solutions. He pointed out future challenges, such as heavy vehicles’ strain on infrastructure, which require sustained funding.

Willie Simmons MDOT (Credits: The Sun-Sentinel)

The department’s commissioners expressed gratitude for past funding but emphasized the necessity of recurring revenue to address ongoing and future infrastructure demands effectively.

Commissioner Simmons outlined the department’s estimated funding requirements, highlighting the need for approximately $9 billion annually for capacity projects and $400 million annually for maintenance.

The urgency of the situation was underscored by MDOT’s acceptance of any funding from the Legislature and their call for a more sustainable funding model.

The commissioners acknowledged the Legislature’s goal of finalizing the budget plan by April 15, indicating MDOT’s readiness to align their funding needs with the legislative timeline to address the infrastructure crisis.

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