Whether you live in Jackson or Natchez, products we all use everyday like groceries reach you via rural roads and bridges. Mississippi’s rural transportation network is the backbone of our state’s economy, no matter where you live in the state.
A recent report published by a national transportation research nonprofit TRIP ranked Mississippi’s rural roads and bridges as seventh-worst in the nation, with nearly one in four rated in poor condition. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Office of State Aid and Road Construction (OSARC), the entities tasked with maintaining and repairing these roads, are already wildly underfunded, and the pandemic has caused both Departments to take a hit in revenue.
Rocky Moretti, TRIP’s Director of Policy and Research said, “Rural transportation networks are crumbling nationwide, but states are being hit harder now than ever. Small towns and big cities both rely on rural roads and bridges for goods, services, and supplies; especially during nationwide crises where supplies need to be transported efficiently.”
The rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain for farms and supermarkets, manufacturers and stores, and for tourists traveling across the state. The importance of these rural roads and bridges goes beyond the towns they link; rural communities are where our food, fiber, fuel and products are produced. These rural transportation networks are the lifeline to our daily routines, products, and food the majority of us take for granted.