Brent Maze: Infrastructure still needs funding


Many roadways across our state are in need of a major overhaul. You’ve seen it. Your car has definitely noticed it.

However, there is no immediate plans to help rehabilitate many of these failing roads, as our state coffers are strapped to keep up with the increasing cost of resurfacing roadways much less look at new construction.

Some of these roads were built after the state raised the gasoline tax to 18.4 per gallon cents in 1987. This was passed along with a highway bill to four-lane a large number of roadways over the years. One of those such plans was the Hwy. 15 expansion to four lanes from north to south. This project for our area is needed. With the recent additions and expansions at Biewer and ESCO, we’ve seen our traffic more than double in the last few years. Hwy. 15 is one of the busier roadways East Central Mississippi, and it needs some help.

One of the reasons why our road projects and road rehabilitations have been put on hold is because the funding for roadways hasn’t kept up with the rising costs of maintenance.

In particular, no adjustments have been made to the gas tax in the past 32 years. When you see the price of gasoline at the pump, only $0.184 per gallon is going to the state for the maintenance of our road system.

When that tax was passed, the price of unleaded gasoline was 89.9 cents per gallon. Now, the cheapest gasoline price in East Central Mississippi is around $2.10.

Again, only 18.4 cents of that is going to our state roads. In 1987, that was 20 percent of the gas price. Now that percentage has dropped to around 8.7 percent.

Not only that, but cars are much more fuel efficient than they were nearly 30 years ago. So that means the miles driven on the road per gallon of fuel is much higher. The cost of road construction has skyrocketed over the past 30 years, but the tax dollars haven’t grown in proportion to that.

While I don’t want to pay more taxes, this tax is needed to help our state keep up with our aging infrastructure. It’s not going to completely solve the problem because we’re so far behind on the road maintenance.

In 2020, this needs to be a top priority. Whether it’s addressing it with a new gas tax or another source of income, especially as far as providing funding for city and county governments are concerned, the legislature can’t afford kick the can down the road.

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