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MDOT pushes for highway fund action

JACKSON — According to executive director Larry L. “Butch” Brown, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be affected tremendously if Congress fails to act on the highway transportation fund. As time continues to tick away, only a few days remain in the current five-year surface transportation authorization measure known as SAFETEA-LU. This authorization will expire Sept. 30, 2009.

The SAFETEA-LU $8.7-billion rescission will result in real program cuts for all states and their metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and will essentially nullify the benefits from economic recovery efforts.

MDOT could receive reductions in highway contract authority of up to approximately $102.7 million. Currently, Mississippi has a $6-billion funding shortfall for maintaining or rebuilding the state’s roads and bridges. This means MDOT cannot meet the enormous needs. MDOT officials have estimated that it will take $12.5 billion to improve road and bridge conditions, relieve congestion and make safety improvements between now and 2016.

“It is critical to the nation’s transportation programs that Congress act immediately to halt the cuts in federal funding,” Brown said. “I urge the public to contact their elected officials in Washington to let them know the importance of this action and to allow state DOTs to continue to create jobs and transportation projects in Mississippi and throughout the nation.”

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