Laird’s Crossing work on the horizon

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 28, 2009

The wreck at Laird’s Crossing on Christmas night was typical ofthe infamous intersection of Highway 84 and Jackson-Liberty Drive,and drew the usual crowd of law enforcement, emergency respondersand onlookers from the community.

And while nobody was badly injured, it also drew the usualquestion from the bystanders: What can be done to make the junctiona safer place for motorists?

Mississippi Department of Transportation officials, who areresponsible for four new stop signs and speed limit signs installedthis year, all equipped with flashing lights, say the answer iscoming soon, though not immediately.

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MDOT construction engineer Ken Morris said that before thecontractor begins work on the project, there is a planning meetingto work on specifics, and that meeting hasn’t been held yet.

“Because of the holidays and the weather,” he said. “And theasphalt and the striping and construction has temperaturelimits.”

Dickerson & Bowen part-owner Cecil Estess said the project,which would raise the grade of a dip in the east-bound side of thehighway just west of the intersection as well as cutting back theembankment on the west side of the highway, is slated to start inearly March. He said that if the weather will allow, it could starteven sooner.

“If we could get about 30 days of fairly decent warm weather,we’d probably go ahead and start it,” Estess said. “I would thinkno later than, of course, the contract start date, but we should beout there in that time period whenever the weather will letus.”

Estess said his company is actually waiting on go to get the jobdone. He said the weather is, in essence, the only hold up.

“It’s not that we’re booked up and have a lot of work. We’llstart as quick as we see there’s a time period we can get in thereand work,” he said. “The dirt work is the part that holds us up …the dirt on side of road is so wet right now it would be a realmess.”

After two fatalities at the dangerous intersection in thesummer, a petition spearheaded by Zetus Volunteer Fire Departmentand family members of victims of the crashes collected almost 8,000signatures, asking MDOT to make some changes, specifically, to putin a four-way stop.

Zetus Fire Chief Dale Anding said the project brought thecommunity together because it was a cause they could all getbehind.

“It’s not just me that’s out doing this, it’s the people in thecommunity, the fire department, it’s all a team effort,” saidAnding. “I can’t take responsibility for this, because it all boilsdown to a team effort between the department and thecommunity.”

And Estess said while the weather is not easy to predict, thatmembers of the West Lincoln community can rest assured that Laird’sCrossing looms large on the radar.

“We have had some good January and Februaries, and some horribleones, and I think the prediction is this year it’ll be a littlecolder than normal,” he said. “I wish I was a weather man, then I’dknow better when to start and not start.”