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County intersection causes problems for nearby schools

By Staff
DIRECTING TRAFFIC County Patrolman Ron Brooks directs traffic Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Highway 19 and Long Creek-Vimville Road. Lauderdale County supervisors believe a traffic light at the intersection would make it safer for motorists and students at the county's nearby elementary, middle, and high schools. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Sept. 5, 2001
School buses packed with Southeast Lauderdale elementary, middle and high school students leave the three campuses at about 2:45 p.m. most weekday afternoons.
But before they take students home, bus drivers must cross what some people call a potentially dangerous and deadly intersection: Highway 19 at Long Creek-Vimville Road.
Lauderdale County supervisors agreed.
They believe the intersection is so dangerous that they voted at their regular meeting on Tuesday to ask the Mississippi Department of Transportation to install a traffic signal there.
And if MDOT won't cover the estimated $75,000 to $100,000 cost, county supervisors said they will.
Signal needs funding
Boswell said he believes MDOT should foot the bill for the traffic light because Highway 19 is a state highway. But supervisors don't know when or if MDOT will do so.
Last year, MDOT didn't act on a legislative request for a traffic light at the intersection. State House and Senate members, at the request of Lauderdale County lawmakers, asked MDOT in 2000 for a stop light.
Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said that MDOT didn't act on the request because statistics showed that Highway 19 didn't have enough traffic.
Hall said that the intersection could possibly use a flashing signal or sign during the day when people are going to and from the schools. MDOT will look at the intersection again after it receives the letter from county supervisors.
Issue needs attention
Boswell said he wants something done with the intersection before it's too late. "I'd hate for someone to get killed before we do something about this," he said.
Angela Massey said that she hopes an officer will continue to direct traffic at the intersection until a stop light is installed. Without one, she said, "it would be a deadly situation."
Gwen Warren, a cashier at the Amoco gas station at the intersection, said that she sees traffic problems every day. She said she is "scared to death to cross the street there."
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or E-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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