MDOT should light way for interchange help

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 21, 2007

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown’sappearance in Brookhaven Tuesday left community officialsdisheartened but no less resolved to see lights installed alongInterstate 55 at the Brookway Boulevard intersection.

Officials were hopeful Brown would announce that funding isavailable for the much-needed project. Instead, the commissionerclaimed the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s hands weretied due to limited discretionary funding. Brown told theBrookhaven Lions Club that other cities and counties along theinterstate corridor have received federal funding for projects fortheir interstate lighting.

But then Brown backtracked a bit. He said MDOT can participatein projects such as interstate lighting – provided certain criteriaare met but cautioned many others are ahead of us for otherprojects.

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His comments raise a few questions.

Along Interstate 55 in Mississippi, Brookhaven is the largestcommunity not to have lighting while many much smaller communitiesdo. We have to ask, have all the other communities’ lightingprojects been solely aided with federal funds or did they meet theMDOT criteria? How did Brookhaven and Lincoln County miss out onthe federal funds and/or the MDOT criteria?

If we are way down on the waiting list, how do our projects geton MDOT’s list and what criteria are used to rank them? Would not alighting project that would benefit thousands upon thousands ofmotorists and boost safety along a major thoroughfare be given ahigh priority?

And while we’re on the subject of needed highway projects,another that comes to mind is a traffic signal along Highway 51 atthe troublesome entrance to King’s Daughters Medical Center.

Despite tremendous efforts by city and county leaders, so far tothe interstate lighting and KDMC traffic signal issues, the onlyanswer Brookhaven and Lincoln County officials have received fromMDOT is “No.” What must be done for Commissioner Brown and MDOT tosay “Yes”?