County Plans Traffic Study On Highway 609

Jackson County Supervisors want to improve safety on Highway 609, which runs through the St. Martin and Latimer communities.

Highway 609 is also known as Washington Avenue, and supervisors say its been the sight of countless traffic accidents through the years. Now the county wants to conduct a traffic study on the three mile stretch of Washington from Highway 90, North to Interstate 10, to see how safety can be improved.

The entrance to the Gulf Hills subdivision is one of the most dangerous spots on 609. Each day thousands of cars zip past, making it difficult for people to come and go.

"North is terrible," said Donnie Ladnier who lives in Gulf Hills. "South is really not bad, but north is terrible."

Anyone heading north out of Gulf Hills has to cross four lanes of busy traffic. Most of the people who live in the neighborhood say the only solution is to install a traffic signal.

"Traffic gets backed up and it's very hard," says Ann Murphy. "You have to wait a long time before you turn."

"I think a traffic signal would help slow some of the people down on Washington because they tend to go a little faster than the speed limit," says Felicia Listow another Gulf Hills resident.

Gulf Hills is just one of the many troubled areas along Highway 609 according to Supervisor Frank Leach. He says in recent years traffic on the highway has steadily increased for two reasons: traffic to and from the casinos and the tremendous amount of commercial growth the area has seen.

Leach says as long as new commercial centers continue going up in the area, so will the number of cars traveling 609.

"The planning department needs to make recommendations that will promote the safety and well being of the people in the area that have to travel those highways and byways," said Leach.

Leach believes the key to making the road safer is reducing speeds.

"You have to break up and slow people down, so traffic signals certainly would do some good," says Leach.

Whether it's more traffic lights, signs or more lanes, Leach says supervisors aren't sure what they'll have to do. What they do know is something has to be done.