Bridge needs deserve funds, clarification

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2014

With approximately one of every four county bridges judged to be in subpar condition, clearly all signs point to a larger problem — or maybe more than one.

Interestingly, state road officials tell us all not to panic just because so many roads receive less than a 50-percent grade. Some of the factors that go into the ratings don’t directly connect to issues of safety.

That might be problem No. 1.

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Just like some school performance measures that simply cause more confusion than clarity, having a grading system that may make perfect sense to engineers and highway officials does nothing to help their public case for increased transportation funding.

At the moment, a disconnect exists in the minds of the public — and perhaps some legislators too — about the confusing grading system in which a less than 25-percent score on a bridge doesn’t actually mean the bridge is unsafe.

The second problem is that despite the unusual bridge grading system, clearly state and local government is not putting enough funding toward maintaining and replacing antiquated bridges.

For Mississippi to move ahead of its peers and stay ahead, we must begin taking care of such boring, but important infrastructure needs.