Transportation Commissioner candidate visits Clarksdale
John Caldwell feels the way the state approaches building highways starts at the wrong place.
“The way it works now is a bunch of political leaders get in a room and start talking about a gas tax and they arrive at a number, 6-cents, 8-cents, 12-cents,” he explained. “Then they come out and say ‘Ok we’re going to do this, pave this highway, fix this bridge, but wait a minute. The money has run out and you don’t get anything this time.”
Caldwell who is seeking the post of North Highway Commissioner said he want to develop a list of highway projects, with hard numbers and then find a way to fund their construction.
“The state will have between $30- and $80-million in funds for highways from the lottery,” said Caldwell. “I want North Mississippi to get a third or that and I want to use that money on specific projects.”
Caldwell said he has promised little but plans to deliver a lot.
“Every politician that goes into a community can promise that community a highway, but they can’t make it happen,” said Caldwell. “As a county supervisor in DeSoto County, using this process I was able to develop paving projects that helped people and actually built roads.”
Caldwell said he has heard of the Mississippi Highway Department’s “list of highways to be built and repaved” for years, but has never found it.
“It’s not there,” said Caldwell. “How can we tie state projects with federal projects unless we have a real list of project that are not shovel ready, but bid ready?”
Caldwell said if elected he will be the first Transporation Commissioner elected from west of Interstate 55 and that would bode well for Clarksdale.
“I don’t want to leave anyone out,” said Caldwell. “I want to listen to you. Then I want to make some hard decisions and get to work building highway in this area.”