Lack of interstate exit lights a costly missed opportunity

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Mississippi Department of Transportation’s inability to fundlights for Brookhaven’s three Interstate 55 interchanges is adisappointing setback for the city on several fronts.

The lack of lights could mean motorists pass up Brookhaven, notrealizing until it’s too late that they could have exited theinterstate here. It’s quite possible travelers have missed our cityand instead traveled on to Summit, McComb or Wesson, instead.

Brookhaven is one of only a few municipalities along theinterstate that does not have lighted interchanges.

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Communities with lights, such as Byram, have seen the areasaround their interchanges grow in recent years. Part of the reasonfor that is sales tax dollars generated by motorists who wereenticed to stop in those municipalities and spend money, even ifonly for gas or a quick meal.

To borrow a motel chain’s slogan, Brookhaven is not “leaving thelight on” for passing motorists. Thus, opportunities to promote theHomeseekers Paradise or to capitalize on sales tax dollars aregoing elsewhere, to cities such as McComb or Hazlehurst.

It must be pointed out that recent efforts regarding interstateinterchange lights are not the first time the project has beenpursued. Plans were under way several years ago, but the Godboldadministration opted to direct available funds elsewhere.

State officials have said other communities have funded andmaintained interstate lights using federal transportation fundsthey receive yearly.

That may be so, but it would take Brookhaven several years toaccumulate enough money to pursue the project. There would still bethe possibility then that some other project may been givenpriority over the interchange lights.

Mayor Bob Massengill said he wants to pursue other potentialfunding avenues for the lighting project. We hope his effortsproduce results.

Until the lights shine on Brookhaven’s interchanges, manypassing motorists will be left in the dark about the many wonderfulthings the city has to offer.