PHILADELPHIA, Miss.–Some highways were meant to be four-laned, but the job has not been done. Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said in his Neshoba County Fair speech Wednesday that the BP settlement money could be used to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, making it possible to complete major projects.
Hall began his speech by saying he believes economic development requires good highways.
“Roads and bridges are economic development,” he said. “When a perspective business is looking at your community…the first question they’re gonna ask is how do I get my raw materials in and how do I get my product out.”
Hall said that could be a problem for places along Hwy. 19 in east Mississippi, where the long-running four-lane project has been stalled, with no money to complete it.
Hall said $300 million was taken from the Highway Trust Fund in 1994 by the legislature.
“The recently announced windfall of almost $2 billion from the BP settlement provides the opportunity for that debt to finally be paid. It should be the very first expenditure from this unexpected, one-time money.”
Hall said he is not running for re-election to “sit on my fanny and fill some occasional potholes”.
“I am running to build something,” he said.
Gov. Bryant and several coast-area legislators have expressed belief that most of the money from the BP settlement should be used on projects on or near the coast, where the BP oil spill damage was most prevalent.
His Democrat opponent, Mary Coleman, was set to speak before Hall, but sent a letter saying that something had come up and she was unable to make it.