No jet packs, and still no four-lanes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 18, 2001

If someone would have told anyone in the 1950s that we’d still be arguing about four-lane highways nearly 60 years later, we suspect they’d have laughed at the notion.

In 1944, as World War II was still being waged, the United States Congress created what later became the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways, better known today as simply the Interstate Highway System.

Certainly in the 1940s and 1950s, America’s view of its own future was vastly different than how things actually turned out. Visions of rocket cars, jet packs, ray guns and routine space travel were certainties, they thought.

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No one would be concerned with concrete and asphalt in the year 2001. Right?

But hold onto your jet packs.

Zoom forward to the present, and where are we? After 30 years of work, the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system now encompasses more than 42,000 miles of roadway. And that highway system serves its purpose on the federal level.

But here in the rural corner of Mississippi, four-lane highways still seem about as likely as zipping up to Jackson in the family rocket.

As other communities are already worried about how to keep up with technology and get a fast ramp onto the Information Superhighway, Mississippi is still fussing over asphalt.

After a state watchdog report showed the Mississippi Department of Transportation rife with management problems, those involved have cried that – now that we know the problem exists – we can fix them. We’re still waiting.

We’ve all seen how motivated the state can be when they need to woo huge companies such as the new Nissan plant. Work has already begun on sitework for that project, but we still aren’t seeing much happen up on U.S. 61. It’s time for our state leaders to look to the future a bit and get the issue of highways behind us all. We need to spend whatever money is necessary to get the issue quickly resolved so that our state can look to the future and avoid falling further behind.

We swear on our ray guns.