By Joe Rutherford
Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert on Friday expressed gratitude for congressional passage of funding for the Highway Trust Fund, but he said his sense of relief is “very temporary” because the $11 billion measure expires at the end of May 2015.
Tagert, a Republican from Starkville whose offices are in Tupelo, said the measure sent Friday to President Barack Obama “does not address” the long-term needs for highway construction in Mississippi and other states.
Many transportation officials like Tagert want a funding law for at least six years.
“It takes a long time – a tremendous amount of time – to plan and build highways,” Tagert said in a telephone interview with the Daily Journal. “A bill like the one passed Thursday does not allow the kind of assurance and continuity required in building highways.”
Tagert called the measure a “Band-Aid.”
Mississippi receives about $460 million per year from federal highway funding sources.
Tagert said he hopes Congress has a “sense of urgency” for working out a bill during the “lame duck” session after the November general elections so that it can be in place by January, in time to be operative during the next construction season.