Road problems getting more study

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2000

While no action was taken Wednesday concerning two dangeroussections of road, Lincoln County officials were able to expresstheir concerns during a meeting with transportation officials.

Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) officialsfielded questions and comments for an hour and a half from countyand school officials about the intersection of Highway 84 andJackson Liberty Drive, known as Laird’s Crossing, and a five-milesection of Interstate 55.

“Please take that Jackson Liberty crossing to heart, becauseit’s a dangerous crossing,” District One Supervisor Cliff Givenstold MDOT officials.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The intersection was the site of numerous fatalities andcountless accidents before the new four-laned section of highwayopened a few weeks ago. One fatality has already been recordedthere.

MDOT District Engineer Darrell Broome said the department hasbeen watching the intersection closely and hopes to come up withsome type of solution soon.

“We have traffic experts who have been spending a lot of time atJackson Liberty. . . and hopefully by the end of next week, weshould have some idea,” he assured county officials.

Some of the suggestions for improving the intersection includedputting caution strips, called rumble strips, along with flashingcaution lights, on Jackson Liberty Drive to warn drivers.

The possibility of widening the median was also discussed duringthe meeting after school bus drivers brought up their fears for thesafety of children on buses crossing that intersection.

“It’s really not big enough for our buses to fit safely,” saidWest Lincoln Bus Driver Gena Watts, who along with bus driver GayKing, travels through the area at least twice a day with loadedschool buses.

Broome asked Lincoln County School District Director ofTransportation Donald Case to have the buses measured, figure outhow many times buses go through that intersection daily, and bringthose figures to the next meeting, which Broome plans to have in afew weeks.

County officials, along with medical personnel and authorities,also expressed their concerns about the section of Interstate 55from the 30 to the 36 mile marker.

“We have a problem there that every time it rains, even if it’sjust a little, there’s going to be an accident,” said Civil DefenseDirector Clifford Galey.

Many of the accidents have been attributed to one-fourth inchruts in the Interstate that hold water, causing drivers tohydroplane. Broome said this is a common complaint about roadwaysin Mississippi.

“We have that problem over the entire state, and we have anextreme lack of funds,” he said. “Building an overlay would be asolution, but the funding is not available right now.”

Broome mentioned financial woes the department was having, dueto many construction projects across the state.

He said minor adjustments might be possible, but funding for anynew projects would be almost impossible for the next two years.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Master Sergeant Chris Williamsreported the problem on that strip of the Interstate was severe andaffected drivers.

“There’s a lot of traffic on the interstate that is not aware ofthis problem,” he said, suggesting that warning signs around thearea might help the situation.

MDOT officials plan to continue looking at the problem andresearching accidents at Laird’s Crossing and on Interstate 55.They hope to meet with the board of supervisors with more solutionssoon.

County officials expressed a willingness to assist with theresearch process in order to find a solution faster.

“We just want to fix these problems, and we are willing to helpany way we can,” said Doug Moak, district 4 supervisor andpresident of the board.