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Lawmakers should listen on roads, bridges

Mississippi’s roads matter. That was the message the Mississippi Economic Council gave legislators Wednesday.

It’s a message lawmakers should listen to.

Over the past week and a half, more than 4,800 residents submitted a “road maintenance request” stating their support for developing a plan during the 2017 legislative session to repair the state’s roads and bridges, MEC reported in a press release. The MEC delivered 15 bound books that contained more than 4,000 of the request forms to lawmakers Wednesday. 

Speaking at a press conference for MEC was Brookhaven’s Bill Sones, as well as several others who stressed the importance of taking care of the state’s infrastructure.

“Mississippi’s citizens understand the importance of a safe and reliable transportation system and what it means for our economy,” said Scott Waller, executive vice president and COO of the Mississippi Economic Council. “The overwhelming response from citizens is an example of why we must continue to make increasing funding for the repair of our transportation system a top priority. We need a solution. We can start taking the steps necessary for developing a long-term plan this year. Repairing Mississippi’s roads and bridges must remain a top priority.”

The stats on the state’s roads and bridges are sobering. A MEC study released in 2015 showed that Mississippi has about 2,300 bridges that are restricted from carrying the legal weight limit for which they were designed. Lincoln County has several in this category. The study also showed that road maintenance and repairs would save the average Mississippi driver $530 in vehicle damage. A comprehensive infrastructure plan would also create jobs.

Addressing infrastructure needs will be expensive, but the state can’t afford to let roads and bridges deteriorate further.