June 20, 2008

Road-building hitting a dead-end in Mississippi?

I'd skimmed over this article from the SunHerald earlier this week, but it wasn't until I A) discovered Taralyn's blog (she goes by Darkangel on MTR), and B) that she'd commented about it that I decided to pipe up.

So, for the first time in what seems like ages, MDOT has cancelled or delayed road projects. The reason? It's not community opposition (which they usually plow through anyway), or the Mississippi Legislature finally getting a clue and reigning MDOT in (which will never happen, no matter how much it needs to).

Nope. As some would put it, it's the economy, stupid. Other DOTs across the country have long been feeling the pinch from the run-up in oil, steel, and cement prices. And now that Katrina money has mostly run its course, MDOT is starting to feel the same.

Which is unfortunate, because there's a lot of projects out there that will be left wallowing in the wind now that inflation has hit the roof in addition to already being left out because MDOT likes doing the "big projects". Like the first phase of what some call MS 601, some call "I-310", and yet others call the "Gulfport Port Connector". Of course, that one survived, because it's "already funded". So did the planned MS 57 bypass of Vancleve.

But several projects ready to go weren't so lucky. Among them: a Kiln bypass, which has been needed since God-knows-when. The article also mentioned improvements to US 11 and MS 43 in Picayune that were put on hold. It's funny in a way...because MDOT has been talking about widening US 11 through Picayune for ages now, and all we've seen from them is a center left-turn-lane for about a mile north of MS 43...and it took Katrina money and traffic just to get that done. And MS 43 has been screaming 4 lanes! and left turn lanes! for awhile now too...but that isn't happening either.

So much for a better route for me over to Gulfport.