A three-year-old study says that 70 percent of the roads in Jackson are beyond life expectancy and need to be rebuilt.
WAPT obtained a copy of the study which was commissioned in 2013 and drafted in 2016 showing the problems with Jackson’s roads. According to the report, some 1,464 roads have outlived their expectancy. Of course, the problems with infrastructure expand beyond roads and include city sewage and drainage.
The state is helping some of the city. It has set aside $3 million for the Capitol Complex District, with $10 million a year to start next year. This includes work in the capitol area, along with the downtown medical corridor.
For the previous four years, the city has also been receiving a 1 percent sales tax to help with roads. While that has aided in providing about $14 million a year, the city has cut back on public works spending from the general fund. As a result, the city went from putting about 15 percent of their general funds toward public works activities in 2009 to under 7 percent last year.
|Year||General fund||Public works||% of spending||1% sales tax|
In 2009, total government activities added up to over $214 million in Jackson. The city devoted over $31 million to public works. That same year the city had a population of 176,000.
Over the next decade, the city’s population would drop to 166,000, but the budget increased to $222 million (though it was higher in 2013 and 2015). Still, the combined money spent on roads – from both the general fund and 1 percent sales tax – only added up to about $29 million, with a little less than $15 million from the general fund.
Hinds county didn’t do much better when it comes to maintaining roads the county is responsible for. They spent just 6.48 percent of their annual expenditures over the last three years on roads and bridges. And they account for 44, or about 10 percent, of the closed bridges in the state.
Mississippi’s second and third largest cities, Gulfport and Southaven, have both made significantly higher investments in maintaining roads than Jackson.
Gulfport spent 13 percent of their $101 million budget on public works in 2016 and 12 percent on their $106 million budget in 2017. Southaven spent 11 percent each year over the past two years. Their general fund budget increased from $54 million to $57 million.
Population in the city of Jackson is not increasing any time soon. Last year, the city lost about 3,000 residents, an unusually high number. In the past 25 years, Hinds county has lost $1.5 billion in annual adjusted gross income, mostly to Rankin and Madison counties. The tax base – both from individuals and businesses – will only continue to shrink.
The awful shape of the Jackson roads are not in doubt. Nor is the undertaking the city faces if they want to truly fix their roads. But that is why we have municipalities and local governments. To take care of their cities.
If it was a priority to Jackson, it would show up in their budget.