Thanks in advance for fixing Mississippi’s roads

By TIM BEELAND,

I drive a 2003 Ford Expedition with roughly 328,000 miles on it. I could probably use a new vehicle, but in my eyes it cranks, it goes into gear, and it takes me from home to work and back. The A/C isn’t so good but the heat is fine and since the temps this week are hovering around the teens that works for me too.

In addition to probably “needing” a new ride, I think I might “like” to have one as well. Maybe a small truck. I had a maroon Ford Ranger one time and that was a great truck. I don’t think they make those anymore, so if I got another one it would have to be secondhand.

It used to be the case that I felt like I had to have new vehicles all the time. I don’t really know why since my first car was a used 1978 Toyota Corona. They don’t make those anymore either, but it was a fine car.

No air conditioning, no radio, stick shift, plain and simple. That car cost me $2,500. It was fun to drive and easy to work on. And, it got great gas mileage. I did add a radio after I got her home.

The Corona took me everywhere I wanted to go, and some places I probably shouldn’t have been going. The only problem I ever had out of it was when a screw in the transmission came loose and busted it up. That really wasn’t much of a problem, though, because like I said, it was easy to work on.

Back then there was a scrap yard over in Meridian where you could get salvage parts for a little or nothing. I picked up another transmission for less than a $100, jacked the car up, crawled under there with my transmission in tow and commenced with the installation.

It was pretty simple to do all by myself. I held it up with my knees, bolted that baby in place and we were back on the road again in no time.

In August of 1981 I opened the door of that old car  for the young woman that had just become my bride and whisked her away to a Smoky Mountain cabin, with toilet paper, shaving cream, sardines and other things I sometimes wonder why folks put on a honeymoon getaway car, littering Interstate 20.

We finally sold that Corona in 1984, for $2,500 mind you, and bought a brand new shiny Toyota Corolla. Same color of gray and it had an A/C and a radio with a cassette player to boot.

Over the years we have had a couple more Toyotas, that Ford Ranger, several Jeeps, several pickups, another little Ford car that had no get up and go at all, and was traded off in no time, a really nice Jeep Grand Cherokee that we kept forever until it burned up in the middle of the night a couple of years ago, and now that Expedition I was talking about, and a Jeep Patriot.

Oh, and I do have a 1987 Saab convertible — a red one — that I’ve had going on 25 years now. It runs, but is not always dependable. Something draws the battery down and that thing will die on the side of the road or in the Wal-Mart parking lot with no warning at all. It smokes a good bit too!

I have thought about letting her go, but can’t seem to bring myself to do so just yet. I keep thinking I’ll pull her into the barn and work on her...like I really have time for that!

Other than the Corona, the Saab, and the Patriot  — the last vehicle we bought — everything was acquired brand new, right off the lot. That will not happen again at our house. Or that’s what I’m saying, but you never can tell when I might change my mind. At least I can’t tell when I might change my mind anyway. Right now, though, I don’t plan on buying anything — new or used — unless forced to do so.

Why?

Well first of all vehicles are very expensive these days. The cost of the Corona would barely make a down payment today. And, beside that, they are almost impossible to work on. The first time I tried to change the spark plugs in the Expedition, I couldn’t even find them. Once I figured out where they were hidden, I couldn’t get to them to get them out, nor did I have the tools to do so either. It’s about the same with changing the oil. I can barely reach the filter to take it off.

But, there is an even more important reason I’m holding off as long as possible, and that is the point of this long and rambling essay. That reason affects all of you as well. It’s Mississippi’s roads. Mississippi’s roads suck. Mississippi’s roads tear up cars. Highway 80 is terrible in some spots, and I live on a dirt road that was supposedly “on the list” for paving when my grandmother was still alive in 1996 and had been for years then.

Before I buy a new — or new to me car — the Mississippi Legislature has got to find a way to fix, or at least improve, our deteriorating highways and bridges. So, get on it Tom, Randy and Terry. Get on it before I’m forced into a buying situation, ‘cause this old Expedition ain’t gonna hold together forever bouncing around here like she is.

Just to clarify, that’s you Rep. Tom Miles, Rep. Randy Rushing, and Sen. Terry Burton.

And, thanks in advance!