Dick Hall - Transportation Commissioner

Dick Hall, Commissioner of Transportation for the Central District spoke to the Rotary Club today.  Commissioner Hall began his career at MDOT in 1999 when he was appointed by former Governor Kirk Fordice to fill a vacancy.  He is currently serving his fifth full term and will not run for re-election this year.  The Central District covers 22 counties and approximately one million people.  Commissioner Hall stated that building a good transportation system also builds our economy.  He discussed that in 1975 when he ran for the MS Legislature, there were four issues – Public Education, Roads, Healthcare and Taxes.  Today in 2019, we have the same issues. 

 

In 1987 the Legislature increased the gas tax and developed a highway program, this was the single most economic program of our times and while MDOT made these road improvements, MDOT did not make provisions to maintain them.  Since 1987 to 2018, there has been a 500% increase in the cost of materials.   Currently in order to keep our roads in conditions that will attract businesses such as Toyota, Nissan and Continental, the legislature needs to have another gas tax increase.  Commissioner Hall commended the MDOT staff for having one of the smallest budgets, but being the eighth best in the country for using their resources. 

 

There are four projects currently being worked on in the Central District.  1) Madison County – working on the bottleneck at I-220 and I-55 North.  They are currently working on this project up to the Natchez Trace and plan to have it completed by Summer 2020.  The project is being managed by Key Construction, a Mississippi Company for $12.4 million dollars, 2) Highway 49 South – this project is underway and should be completed by Summer 2021.  W. G. Yates Construction, another Mississippi Company, is managing this project for $147 million dollars, 3) I-20 at Norrell Road where the new Continental Tire Plant is being built to widen the bridges and put new exits.  This is being managed by Joe McGee Construction, another Mississippi Company, is managing this project, 4) Byram to Copiah County line is having an overlay on this part of I-55 South.  In 1987, all the contractors for building roads were from out of state, but today, we have multiple Mississippi companies that can handle the projects. 

 

In closing, Commissioner Hall wanted to thank everyone for their support during his terms, the courtesies extended to himself and his wife, Jennifer, and for allowing him to serve as their Commissioner.