Three states take action to prioritize infrastructure improvements

If you sit behind the wheel of a vehicle, be it commercial or personal, you know just how important infrastructure can be. Decrepit bridges and pesky potholes aren’t just everyday annoyances, they’re roadblocks to our nation’s progress.

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In fact, our infrastructure is in such a state of disrepair, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation’s roads, bridges, and transit systems a D+ last March. President Donald Trump has emphasized our infrastructure woes, claiming that the time has come “to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

Over the past couple of weeks, government officials are putting action to President Trump’s charge as recent strides have been made toward improving the state of our nation’s infrastructure. From Kentucky, to Mississippi, to Pennsylvania, drivers should soon be noticing improved road and bridge conditions.

Here’s the lowdown on recent infrastructure developments:

After 60 years of construction, 1-95 is finally complete

Although it was the headliner of the American highway system promoted by President Dwight Eisenhower, Interstate 95 almost didn’t happen due to opposition from local lawmakers and land owners in Mercer County, NJ, according to Transport Topics.

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However, in September, one of the boldest public infrastructure undertakings in American history will finally be finished after six long decades of work. 

Construction has long forced drivers near the Pennsylvania border off the interstate and onto other roadways for 8 miles. After more than two decades, $425 million, and the tireless efforts of transportation officials and civil engineers, drivers will be able to bid farewell to this detour.

“The benefit of completing this ‘missing link’ is mobility,” said Carl DeFebo, the director of public relations at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Increase mobility, it will. I-95 will slash traffic time for drivers traveling both north and south, as well as quell congestion on local roads drivers would be using to connect from I-95 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

If you’re traveling this particular interstate in the next month or so, prepare to experience a more convenient, uninterrupted highway system that flows all the way through 15 states, along with redesignated parts of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes, touting brand-spanking new I-95 signage.

“Historic” transportation bill could put the power to change infrastructure in the hands of local Mississippi governments

Change is coming for Mississippi’s infrastructure, with legislation that state house leaders deem “historic” being sent to Governor Phil Bryant on Monday. This legislation would divert state funds to local governments to help with their infrastructure needs.

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This positive shift comes after Gov. Bryant recently called a special session to wrestle with the state’s infrastructure shortcomings. Yesterday, the House voted by an overwhelming margin of 111-4 to approve changes to the bill in the Senate and deliver it to the governor without making any other changes.

So what can be expected as a result? In about four years when the bill is fully enacted, an estimated $120 million will be generated, diverting 35 percent of the use tax revenue from the state to local governments.

Mississippi cities and counties can first expect to see this money starting in January, with funds being parceled out over four years. This means local government will receive one-fourth of the total each year.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, deemed passage of this bill “historic,” claiming the bill provides “a continuing stream of revenue for cities and counties from this day forward.”

Secretary of Transportation joins Kentucky lawmakers to celebrate INFRA grant

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao was back in her home state of Kentucky praising a recently awarded Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant, which will go toward improving an interchange connecting two interstates.

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“These investments in key infrastructure for Northern Kentucky will increase economic development, improve the quality of life and help create jobs for the hard-working people of this region,” Chao said during her meeting with state leaders Aug. 24.

This federal grant awards Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet $67 million for the construction of auxiliary lanes and a new “double crossover diamond” interchange on a stretch or road where I-75 and I-71 overlap, according to Transportation Topics.

What exactly is a diverging double diamond interchange? Basically, this kind of crossover helps with left-turning movements onto arterial roads, doing away with the need for a left-turn signal at signalized ramp terminal intersections, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

“The [double crossover diamond] is really a great alternative for both of these interchanges,” said Kentucky’s Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas. “With the growing vehicle traffic in this region, DCDs efficiently use taxpayer resources to improve safety and travel time.”

Do you think infrastructure needs to be more of a priority? 

It's good to see states taking action toward fixing our nation's "crumbling infrastructure." As you've driven across the U.S., what parts of the infrastructure do you think are in the most dire need of improvement?