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MDOT introduces 5-year road and bridge plan

Transportation improvements is a hot-button topic during this legislative session, with officials acknowledging the need for funding but wrangling how those needs will be met, as well as finding the means to increase current funding.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently addressed the underfunding of the state’s transportation system, according to MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath.

“However, our Five-Year Plan paves the way forward with the funding we currently have,” McGrath said.

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MDOT is required by law to prepare a five-year schedule for construction, upgrades and improvements to the state highway system. The criteria that MDOT uses to assign project priority is prescribed in state law. This criterion includes public safety, condition of highways and bridges, present and future traffic counts and route connectivity.

The Five-Year Plan consists of system preservation, Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and highway capacity projects. The project schedule is fluid and subject to revision on a continuous basis due to circumstances outside the control of MDOT such as utility conflicts or rising cost of land and construction materials.

System preservation includes projects that maintain the state’s existing highway system. These projects typically include pavement rehabilitation, single lift overlays and bridge replacements. For example, in Lafayette County, mill and overlay work is scheduled on Highway 30 from Highway 7 to the Union County line, on Highway 334 from University Avenue to the Pontotoc County line, on Highway 278 from Panola County line to Pontotoc County line.

HSIP projects implement safety improvements that reduce the number and severity of crashes at hazardous intersections or roadway sections. The projects include intersection improvements, shoulder widening, rumble strip installation, guardrail improvements, and cable-barrier installations. Plans are currently in place for safety improvements on Highway 49 in Forrest County from the Stone County line to South Gate Road.   

Highway capacity projects expand the state-owned highway system to accommodate population growth and increased economic development. Most capacity projects have been postponed since the current funding is used to preserve the existing state-owned highways.

“The projects included in the Five-Year Plan are scheduled during the period of October 2016 through September 2021, and are based on the current level of funding,” McGrath said. “As construction costs continue to rise, with no increases in funding, projects will inevitably be pushed into future years.”

For more information about MDOT’s Five-Year Plan, visit GoMDOT.com/betterfundingbetterrooads.