Letters to the Editor

Make our roads and bridges a priority

At local, state and federal government levels, public officials are deciding how to improve the poor state of our roads and bridges across Mississippi and especially here on the Coast. The infrastructure needs we face are significant, and our leaders should focus on these needs rather than services that aren’t generally government provided.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced Mississippi is the eighth-worst state in terms of the condition of our bridges. In fact, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, more than 13 percent of our bridges are “structurally deficient.” If “structurally deficient” doesn’t sound scary enough, the ASCE also found nearly 30 percent of our roads are in “poor condition.” Substandard roads mean higher auto costs. The ASCE said Mississippi residents spend an average of $705 per year because of our deteriorating roads. Investing in basic infrastructure would be good for drivers and the economy. Improving our roads and bridges would create 7,000 new jobs, according to MS Roads Matter, a public campaign to raise awareness of Mississippi’s infrastructure issue.

Our state’s transportation agency says it will take $400 million to repair our roads and bridges. Clearly, our needs are significant. That’s why we should be investing in these specific needs, rather than projects such as government-owned broadband and internet systems, which private-sector companies already provide.

Paul Machael

Pass Christian