Traffic does matterin historic district

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 8, 2002

At Tuesday’s city board meeting, Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. JerryWilson took exception with our editorial questioning the need for apossible new overpass in the southern part of the city. Accordingto the alderman, increased traffic through one of the city’s mosthistoric neighborhoods does not matter. Or, as he put it, “Trafficain’t got nothing to do with it. We’re trying to fix a bridge.”

While officials are considering several sites for the overpass,they contend the intersection at Natchez Avenue and South JacksonStreet is an “ideal” location to start the controversialbridge.

However, results from a recent newspaper opinion poll — plusproperty value, financial and historic district concerns — suggestthe bridge may not be needed at all.

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Even after Alderman Wilson objected to the DAILY LEADEReditorial, the question garnered only 54 responses. That low levelof interest indicates the closed Warren Avenue bridge has notimpacted people’s lives to any great extent.

Of those who responded, almost 70 percent said they had not beenimpacted by the bridge’s closure. This is further reason toquestion the city’s desire to pursue the project.

But, yes, the real heart of this matter is traffic — apotential increase in traffic that could have important financialramifications throughout Brookhaven.

Homes on Natchez Avenue and in the surrounding area are some ofthe most expensive in the city. Property taxes on their valuescontribute greatly to city coffers.

An increase in higher-speed traffic through the area, though,threatens to make the homes less attractive to potential buyers,which would in turn lower property values. As stated earlier, taxrevenue lost on those homes would have to be made up elsewhere.

Residents near the intersection have also pointed out thehistorical importance of the area. And, they’re not the only ones.According to the state Department of Archives and History,Brookhaven has one of the largest Victorian era districts in thestate.

That historical district attracts tourists, and those touristsbring revenue to the city in the form of sales taxes. Heaviertraffic through the historic neighborhood could have a negativeeffect on its tourism attractiveness.

We know that Brookhaven will never be Natchez when it comes totourism, but every little bit helps. Add in the Mississippi Schoolof the Arts, in which city officials played a big role in making areality, and tourism is an even more important issue.

Yes, Alderman Wilson, traffic has everything to do with it.