A report released Dec. 18 by the Mississippi Economic Council’s new program, ‘Excelerate Mississippi’, found a shortfall of $375 million per year in order to address Mississippi’s most vital transportation needs.
The study identified 24,591 miles of state-owned highways in need of preventative maintenance, minor rehabilitation or major rehabilitation; as well as 936 bridges considered to be in a state of disrepair, 191 of which are posted for capacity weights. The task force estimated $4.86 billion in new revenue is needed to repair the state infrastructure issues. An additional $1.747 billion is needed on the county and local level to repair 13,192 miles of road and 2,989 deficient bridges, 2,200 of which are posted.
The task force identified two primary reasons for the funding shortfall. Since 1987—the last time Mississippi increased state motor fuel taxes—inflation grew by 108 percent and construction cost rose 217 percent. However, demand for gasoline only rose 1.2 percent since 1999.
The economic impact of investing $375 million annually would result in 7,673 new jobs, an increase in gross state product of $5,404 million, and growth in personal income of $7,083 million, the report showed. Investing would facilitate commerce and safety, and save money in the long run by preventing deteriorating roads and bridges from requiring extensive work.
Of the $375 million per year in recommended new funding, $300 million would be allocated to the state department of transportation and $75 million to counties and localities in order to repair roads and bridges. Recommendations for transportation revenue sources included increasing the state motor fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, the general sales tax, a sales tax on gasoline and diesel, fees for alternative fuel vehicles and rental car fees. Additionally, the report suggested a study on a vehicle-miles traveled tax, public-private partnerships, and indexing the excise tax on motor fuels to inflation.
Read the report.