CARTHAGE, Miss.–Mississippi is expected to get about $4.4 billion dollars over five years from that federal infrastructure package that was passed last week in Washington. While central Mississippi has many needs and priorities, it is still not clear how that money will be spent, once it arrives.
But, state lawmakers are working on a plan, with the help of Sen. Jennifer Branning, who represents Leake County.
“Everybody’s hearing the details on it, still trying to get my arms around it. But, I want to be ready when that money is available to make sure we do spend it wisely,” said Branning. Tuesday she presided over a Senate Transportation Committee hearing at the state capitol.
“More than 300 bridges in Mississippi have been closed by the Federal Highway (Administration),” said Jacob Forrester, immediate past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Mississippi Chapter, testifying at the hearing.
“That’s been determined based on the fact that the structures were insufficient when they were inspected and they posed a risk to the traveling public,” he said.
In some cases that has cost Mississippians time and money, with some people having to drive 20 or 30 miles out of their way to find another route, with some having to build that into their routines because the bridges stay closed for so long.
About $3.3 billion of the money is expected to go toward bridges and roads, the majority of the money.
Broadband is included. About $100 million is expected to go to that.
“Access to the internet in 2021 is the same as electricity in the 1930s when people had to have electricity to change their lives,” said northern district Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, in August on The Breckfast Show on Breezy101. “It’s the same really with broadband access.”
Other areas that may be covered include filling a $40 million hole in the state’s public health insurance fund, which has been losing money .Airports are also expected to get almost $100 million. Sewer and water pipe repair will also get a nod, with about $429 million.
Electric chargers for electric cars and trucks are also expected to be installed in more places, with Mississippi receiving over $50 million for that.
The state legislature will be in charge of the money and determining how it is distributed, and that will likely be a topic for them to tackle when they meet in January.