LATIMER, MS (WLOX) - by Elizabeth Vowell – email
LATIMER, MS (WLOX) – Over a year after Latimer residents protested the proposed expansion of Highway 15 through their community, residents are preparing to stand against the issue again.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation plans to expand the route to suit increasing traffic. Its web site also lists creating another hurricane evacuation route as another reason for the expansion.
MDOT pulled the original proposal after the protests, and came up with four alternate routes. While all routes are being studied and considered, the orange route is still proposed to cut into Jackson County, this time north of Latimer into Desoto National Forest.
"We were hoping that with over a thousand signatures from our residents and the large number, over four hundred Latimer residents at our meeting that we had with MDOT, we thought this would not come to pass," said resident Lori Ramsay Massey
Latimer residents like Sandra Allawine still aren't comfortable with the new alternate route. An avid gardener, Allawine worries how a major highway could effect the environment.
"It would have to have a huge environmental impact on the plants and the animals that live in the national forest. So from an environmental standpoint I think it would be bad idea too," said Allawine. a
According to Jackson County Supervisor Tommy Broadnax, the environmental impact of all potential routes is being analyzed. He says the expansion is state project that is a needed improvement to infrastructure as the area grows. He also reminds residents that the project is still in its infancy.
Allawine has raised her concerns to the public and is also starting a petition against the Jackson County Route to submit to MDOT.
"We do not want Highway 15 to come through Jackson County, and we prefer it to stay in Harrison County where it currently is," said Allawine.
The Latimer Civic Association is holding a public meeting Monday night in the Latimer Community Center where residents can again discuss the project.