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It’s time to get real about Mississippi’s crumbling infrastructure

The Natchez Democrat Editorial Board

Mississippi’s crumbling bridges are in microcosm a glimpse at a much larger, national problem.

For far too long our country has devoted too little attention to important, but not politically advantageous, matters such as infrastructure needs.

Building a new bridge rarely wins a politician many votes and so long as the existing bridge doesn’t collapse, no one is harmed in kicking the infrastructure can down the road a little bit longer.

MORE: Here are Mississippi’s busiest structurally deficient bridges

But eventually, ignoring problems will catch up to you and in Mississippi, that day of reckoning is coming soon.

Last week, Gov. Phil Bryant announced the closure of approximately 83 bridges across the state due to their being structurally unsafe. That number was later revised to include more than 100 bridges.

Bryant deserves no applause for his foresight or his concern for the safety of Mississippians, however. The Federal Highway Administration forced his hand. The feds had ordered the bridges closed months ago, but the state ignored it. Earlier this month, however, the feds threatened to take further action — read: We’re going to stop sending any money to you — if the state did not comply.

Many of the bridges are in rural corners of the state. Sadly, it’s unlikely the state will be able to cough up funds to pay for these repairs anytime soon. Instead, proponents of a lottery will likely use the situation to push for the their agenda in an effort to help “solve” the infrastructure problem.

Residents need to be wary of such. Many will recall the myriad of promises made when gambling was first legalized in the early 1990s. Few of those promises were ever kept. We need a solid and serious transportation plan, one that can begin to right years of neglect.

(Originally published by The Natchez Democrat)

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