The program that's designed to maintain roads and bridges in Mississippi is poised to receive its largest funding increase within the last twenty years. In all, the Mississippi legislature has approved a 160% increase in funding for the State Aid Program for Roads and Bridges. Of that $52 million budget, Lauderdale County is expected to receive $500,000 in additional funding.
"We have got approximately 400 miles in Lauderdale County that are eligible for this state aid funding,"says Lauderdale County Engineer, Terrell Temple.
Although appreciative for the funding, Temple says because of the high cost for roadway repairs, the extra money will not meet all of the county's needs.
"If we do reseal construction, which is basically where we go out and spray asphalt and stone on it, we can get about ten miles of repair," says Temple. "If we do an overlay construction, like what needs to be done on some of the roads, then you're probably looking at two to three miles."
Given this year's harsh winter and the recent heavy rain, Temple says the pavement on many roads in Lauderdale County has been weakened. He says these factors only increase the need for road improvements.
"When you've been on a fixed fund for almost 20 years, and inflation has almost doubled over a 20 year time frame, there's not a whole lot of extra money to do things that we would like to do for the general public."
Temple says the condition of all county roads will be accessed sometime during the fall. He projects that next spring the extra funding will be used to do work on the roads that are most in need.
The last time that Mississippi's Road and Bridge Program was provided additional funding was in 1995. Next year Lauderdale County is expected to receive a total of $1.3 million in state funding for roads.