Dirt piled at bridge entrance
Work crews pile dirt at access points to closed bridges. Credit: File photo, Mississippi Today

The Senate has unanimously voted to add $300 million to the state’s Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Program.

The proposal, which could speed repair of more than 200 bridges statewide that are closed and/or posted for structural problems, now heads to the House.

“Right now, we have millions of dollars in federal relief funds flowing through our economy,” said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. “Our cities, counties and constituents have asked us to dedicate our resources to better maintaining our infrastructure. We are listening and hope to send this legislation to the governor posthaste.”

But the legislation is also likely to get hung up in House and Senate debate over major income tax cuts and other spending decisions.

Senate Bill 3167, authored by Senate Appropriations Chairman Briggs Hopson, would direct $300 million of $1.1 billion in surplus state revenue this year into the program. The Legislature passed the emergency repair program in 2018, with hundreds of state bridges in dangerous disrepair, and initially funded it with $250 million in borrowing. Lawmakers spent another $89 million on the program last year.

The ERBR Program is run by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and an advisory board of industry and local government leaders.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the 2022 legislative session

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.