Supervisors cite need for road funding

Published 8:00 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

Lincoln County supervisors contend that increased funding is necessary if local communities and the state are to improve on a recent mediocre evaluation of the state’s roads and bridges.

     The Mississippi chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2012 report gave Mississippi a C for various aspects of its infrastructure, including roads and bridges. The report evaluated the state as a whole and did not grade counties individually.

     The report listed a C grade as being mediocre. It said continued under funding of roadways and bridges would lead to more inadequate upkeep, which would be a serious threat to the state’s economy and livelihood of its residents.

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     In Lincoln County, supervisors said they were doing what they could to keep the roads and bridges up, but they needed more funding in order to do more.

     District Four Supervisor Eddie Brown said there is never enough money for roads and bridges.

     “More money needs to be given out because there is never enough money for the problems that exist with roads and bridges,” he said. “The lack of the Local System Bridge Program funding is a major thing with this county.”

     None of the supervisors suggested more taxes on the people of Lincoln County, but they said the funding needs to come from somewhere.

     “You cannot put on enough taxes to fund all these roads,” said Brown. “You can’t tax people to death, because people just can’t stand it.  The money has to come from other sources such as the federal government or someone else.”

     District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson said he’s doing what he can to keep up roads and bridges in his district.

     “We’re doing maintenance on ours to make sure they’re kept up,” said Wilson. “Dungan Engineering comes out and does some surveying to make sure everything is stable. The biggest thing is that we just need more funding to take care of our roads and bridges.”

     District Two Supervisor Jimmy Diamond says it’s not easy to keep up with all the roads and bridges in his district with the money he has.

     “We have several bridges that need attention, but we have to wait until we get the money to repair or replace them,” he said.

     Brown said roads and bridges in his district range from good to poor.

     “None are excellent because they all need something, whether it’s resealing or the 55 miles of road that need blacktopping,” he said. “A lot of smaller topped roads need reseals. Many State Aid roads need resealing.”

     Brown said it’s an ongoing problem that is very difficult to get ahead of.

     “There’s just not enough money for it,” he said. “You try to pick out a few roads and fix them and take it year by year picking the most desperate needs.”

     Wilson said he thinks his roads and bridges are in good shape on the whole, but could be better.

     “I would say they’re pretty good,” said Wilson. “If we had the funding to do more, it could be better. We do have the third most bridges in the state.”

     Diamond agreed with the other supervisors on the condition of the roads and bridges in his district.

     “I’d say the roads and bridges in my district are fair, but some are better than others,” he said. “We’re doing the best we can with the money we have.”

     District Three Supervisor Nolan Williamson said he cannot give an assessment of the conditions of roads and bridges in his district.

     “I can’t say what grade I’d give our roads and bridges because we haven’t received our last review of the bridges from last year from State Aid,” he said. “The state is behind on that. Once we get the report, I’ll know a lot more.”

     Williamson agreed that additional funding for roads and bridges would be helpful.

     “If some way they can help us with more money, that would be great,” he said. “If the legislature increased funding for bridges that would help tremendously. We’re still getting the same money we got in 1996 for bridges, so the funding has stayed the same but the costs have gone up.”

     District Five Supervisor Dudley Nations said the roads in his district could always use a little more help.

     “I would describe their overall condition as being fair,” he said. “Some could use a lot more help than others. Each day we work to make the roads safer with the work that we are doing.”

     Nations said his office is always working to make the roads better and safer.

     “We’re been doing some spraying of right of ways and ditch work over the winter months hoping that will make the roads safer plus keep water off the roads after rains,” he said. “We don’t have any roads in the district that don’t need some repairs, but some need repairs more than others.”