Voters Make Fixing Our Roads & Bridges #1 Campaign Issue

The Republican primary brought road and bridge funding to the forefront of party politics this year. With 51% of Mississippi Republicans voting for two candidates who supported a change in road and bridge funding, voters forced a runoff between Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller. Leading up to the runoff election, the two Republican candidates debated twice and sparred with each other via digital and TV ads based around issues they believed important to Mississippi voters. However, no one issue was more prominent or discussed more frequently than Mississippi’s crumbling roads and bridges. In fact, the issue became so prevalent, Bill Waller could be seen on the campaign trail wearing a red “Make Mississippi Roads Great Again” hat and discussing roads and bridges at many of his campaign stops.  

Voters and elected officials throughout the state of Mississippi have widely acknowledged that the state’s roads and bridges need help immediately. Because Mississippi has not increased its gas tax to match inflation and the rising costs of construction in the last 32 years, the state has been unable to fund necessary repairs and improvements to its roadway systems. Currently, Mississippi roads and bridges are in rough shape: 

  • Over 450 bridges are closed;
  • Thousands of miles of roads need to be repaved;
  • Second-highest traffic fatality rate in the nation;
  • An average of 33% of roads are in “poor” condition;
  • Traffic crashes in which roadway features were a contributing factor resulted in Mississippians carrying $1.1 billion in economic costs.

Mississippi voters voiced the need for a long-term and sustainable plan that addresses the current funding issues around fixing roads and bridges throughout the state. 

As voters throughout the primary acknowledged, without a long-term, comprehensive plan to improve Mississippi’s roadways, more roads and bridges are expected to close as federal safety regulations continue to tighten. Much of the state, including even the most anti-government conservatives have conceded that something must be done to get the process started on road and bridge improvements. TRIP, a national transportation research group, recently estimated that every $1 of deferred maintenance on roads and bridges has been found to cost an additional $4 to $5 in necessary future repairs.

As the general election approaches, voters MUST continue to demand a definitive and sustainable long-range plan for fixing Mississippi’s roads and bridges from both Democratic and Republican candidates.

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