Dangerous crossing gets MDOT attention

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zetus Road resident Joann Adams prays daily for the safety ofher daughter and granddaughter who drive through the intersectionat Laird’s Crossing on the way to West Lincoln Attendance Centerevery school morning.

“It is the first thing I say every morning is, ‘Dear Lord,please keep them safe at that intersection,'” Adams said. “It’sbeen a concern of mine for a long time, because we go that waygoing to church, and we take our granddaughter to differentfunctions out that way. It’s just dangerous, and it really affectsthat little community out there.”

Mississippi Department of Transportation officials have takennotice, as is most recently evident Monday when four new stop signswith blinking lights were added on Jackson-Liberty Road on eitherside of Highway 84.

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The work triples the number of stop signs at the intersectionthat has been the site of numerous accidents, including some fatal,over the years. The new signs will require north- and southboundmotorists to stop in the median as they cross the four-lanehighway.

Additional safety efforts are under way, MDOT officialssaid.

“We’re fixing to do a project to raise the grade of that dip outthere and do some different striping,” said District ConstructionEngineer Ken Morris. “I do know the district engineer got them toput some stop signs with blinking lights up on the local roads,just as another thing to get everyone’s attention.”

Morris also said some of the embankment on the north side of theintersection will be cut away to make the western horizon morevisible, and that bids on the project to raise the grade of theinfamous “dip” just before the intersection on Highway 84 eastboundshould be awarded sometime close to the end of October. He saidthat has been an ongoing project since 63-year-old Janice Allen waskilled in a midday accident at Laird’s Crossing on May 12.

“I know they’ve done a petition, too, but we were in the processof doing something out there, got the survey done after thefatality earlier in the summer,” he said. “Our traffic engineerswent out and looked at it since the petition and all that, and didanother analysis.”

Meanwhile, the petition, spearheaded by Zetus Volunteer FireDepartment officials, picked up steam on its own, garnering almost8,000 signatures at last count. Some see the petition interest asproof that community members besides Adams are feeling the need tostop the loss of life at the dangerous crossing.

Zetus Fire Chief Dale Anding said he’s still hearing feedbackfrom West Lincoln residents who want to see progress.

“They’re all saying that they still want something done, theydon’t want any more lives lost,” he said, adding that the new stopsigns are a real encouragement. “I hope it works, and I hope whatwe’ve done so far has gotten everyone’s attention. I hate to sayit, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

And MDOT Southern District Commissioner Wayne Brown said whilestatistics still do not merit a four-way stop at the intersection,the new signs should call attention to the need to proceed withcaution.

“I just want something to happen there where it can be safer,”he said. “I’ve been through that intersection, and if you’ll stopand look and be very careful, it’s not an impossible thing tonavigate that intersection carefully.”

Brown said the decision not to add a four-way stop is one thatofficials have thought over carefully.

“If people will pay attention, hopefully these stop signs willmake it easier on them. Hopefully they will come to a completestop,” he said. “Four-way stops don’t eliminate fatalities … ifthey did we’d have thousands of them everywhere.”