MDOT Funds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009


State could get $300 million for MDOT

By Billy Davis

A federal stimulus plan being debated in the U.S. House could send $300 million to Mississippi for transportation needs, according to state Rep. Warner McBride.

McBride, of Batesville, chairs the House Transportation Committee. He reported the promising news following a two-day trip to Washington, D.C. on January 15 and 16.

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Butch Brown, executive director of the Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT), and Rep. Donnie Bell accompanied McBride on the trip. Bell is co-chair of the House Transportation Committee.

MDOT requested $600 million from the stimulus plan, “but they were told to expect half that amount,” McBride said.

Whatever the amount received, three-fourths of the funds would be allocated for maintenance of Mississippi’s highways and bridges. The remaining one-quarter would be spent on new construction.

 The $600 million included $90 million for State Aid, the state agency that works with county governments for road improvements, McBride said. That amount, too, would likely be cut to $45 million.

At least part of the $825 billion stimulus plan is aimed at infrastructure improvements across the country that are “shovel ready,” meaning those that can be started almost immediately.

“We’ve been told the projects must be ready within 120 days,” McBride explained.                                                                                                        

In Washington, McBride, Bell and Brown met with Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Travis Childers, and Sen. Thad Cochran. A staff member from Sen. Roger Wicker also met with them.

McBride said that Childers also took the trio to the U.S. Capital, where they met with a staff member representing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi also dropped by to speak briefly, he said.

“This stimulus package could mean putting thousands of Mississippians back to work,” McBride said in a prepared statement. “This would allow us to begin construction on new projects and maintain jobs that we have in Mississippi.”