Trees Falling To Make Highway 49 Safer

Big piles of smoldering, cut trees fill the Highway 49 median from the Stone County line to just south of Perkinston. Resident Viola Sharp says, "If it needs to be done, it needs to be done."

What the transportation department is doing is leveling out a series of hills in the southbound lanes and building wider shoulders. That means clearing the median of the trees. Some drivers say they understand why some trees have to go but they hate to see them all wiped out.

"Cause a lot of people tend to ride with their brights on, not realize they have them on and it cuts down on the glare at night," Paul Hackenbruch says.

"I don't understand the safety part of it, but I guess if they say it is, it is," Rick Litsey says.

Frankie Vaughn isn't as concerned about the trees as she is about accidents that the work can cause. She says she remembers several from last year when the work was on-going in north Harrison County.

"After they started paving it was down to two way traffic in one lane and a lot of them were head on that they were working," she says.

Josh Kirke says sometimes nature has to give way to safety.

"I care about the trees. The only good part about it I can see is people don't run off the road and run into trees in the middle of the median. You know if somebody runs off the road in the middle, they're not gonna hit any trees. It might save lives."

Transportation officials say that's the whole idea of stripping the median: to save lives on a road that was designed for much slower traffic.

Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown says the Highway 49 work will continue until next June. He says most of it should be finished before the next hurricane season starts.