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Officials seek traffic help for intersection

Lincoln County officials are hoping to have a traffic study doneby state transportation officials to determine the feasibility ofinstalling a traffic device at the intersection of Hwy. 550 andJackson Liberty Drive.

The study is a side project of District Five Supervisor GaryWalker. He said the intersection is not only jumbled, butdangerous, with Loyd Star Attendance Center only a quarter-milefrom where the two roads meet.

“Early in the morning, from about 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., it’shorrible up there,” Walker said. “If you’re pulling up to thecrossroads from the south on Jackson Liberty, you can’t hardly seeeast and west down Hwy. 550, because you’re sitting on the lowerside of that hill.”

The lack of vision down Hwy. 550 in either direction isdangerous because the speed limit on Hwy. 550 is 55 – “which reallymeans 65,” Walker said.

“If they just want to put up some caution lights, that’d be finewith me,” Walker said. “I just want to make it a saferintersection, that’s what I’m gettin’ at. If it would keep a wreckfrom happening, it would be worth it.”

The installation of caution lights, or any other type of trafficdevice, is a decision that will be made by the MississippiDepartment of Transportation (MDOT) after the traffic study iscompleted. The study cannot begin, however, until MDOT receives alist of traffic accidents that have occurred at theintersection.

Walker has enlisted the help of Lincoln County Sheriff SteveRushing, who plans to gather the accident reports for theintersection of Hwy. 550 and Jackson Liberty Road from theMississippi Highway Patrol’s main office in Jackson.

“Accident reports are a major aspect of the study,” said DarrellBroome, a project engineer with MDOT. “Our area traffic engineerwould do a complete survey of the intersection, look at the numberand types of accidents, and the traffic volume and movements.”

Broome said that if the department decides to take action on theintersection, a number of options exist for taming thecrossing.

Major options, like construction, would have to placed on MDOT’sproject list. Smaller options, like installing caution lights,could be completed much faster.

“For a caution light, basically we would do the review of theintersection and, if that’s all we need, we’d install thatourselves,” Broome said. “That doesn’t really take a project to beset up; that’s something we can do ourselves, early on.”

Broome said that, if MDOT decided a caution light was the properinstrument for the intersection, the traffic study could becompleted, and the yellow lights installed about one month afterthe decision was made.

Loyd Star Principal Wayne Rogers said the intersection of Hwy.550 and Jackson Liberty Drive only contributes to the trafficcongestion that is experienced every day in front of hisschool.

“Usually, we start getting backed up in the morning with ourbuses,” he said. “Due to the amount of traffic coming from west ofthe school into Brookhaven, the traffic is just a majorproblem.

“And a lot of people live north and south of Hwy. 550 – they useJackson Liberty to commute to Hwy. 550, which is the main highwayto take them back into Brookhaven,” he said.

Fortunately, Rogers said, accidents at the crossing have beenfew in number.

“We haven’t had anything severe, knock on wood,” Rogers said.”But we’ve had a few bump-ins and rear-ends, especially when it’swet and foggy this time of year. It’s just a major problem duringschool months in the mornings and afternoons.”