Dangerous intersection claims another life - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Dangerous intersection claims another life

Bright orange paint in the median and on the roadway mark the location of the latest fatal accident. (Photo source: WLOX) Bright orange paint in the median and on the roadway mark the location of the latest fatal accident. (Photo source: WLOX)
Four people have died so far this year at the intersection, and there have been other serious accidents besides the fatalities. (Photo source: WLOX) Four people have died so far this year at the intersection, and there have been other serious accidents besides the fatalities. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

There was another fatality over the weekend at an increasingly dangerous intersection. Four people have been killed so far this year at the intersection of Highways 49 and 53.

The biggest problem it seems, is drivers on Hwy. 49 running the red light. That's what caused Sunday's fatality, and it's why local residents approach that crossing with caution.      

Broken glass, bright orange paint markings from law enforcement and small pieces of car parts from the wrecked vehicle. All are solemn reminders of the dangers at the busy intersection.

Those who live near the intersection don't need reminding.

“I think it's because this light turns green, and they think the other light automatically turns green so they keep on going and they don't even look up,” said one driver waiting in the turn lane to head west on Hwy. 53.

“I will never leave or cross the road when the light immediately turns green. I'm always looking to make sure that the cars coming south or north stop before I go,” said Harrison County resident Buck Lawrence, who frequently travels through the intersection.

Speed may well contribute to the danger index, but there are other factors as well.

“Speed and the fact of the terrain. Being on a hill, it kind of causes you to have a blind spot coming to the intersection. It's just a gradual grade, but it does take away from your vision,” said John Marr, a veteran with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.

Crosses in the median offer visual evidence to drivers about the loss of lives there. Some people suggest that warning or caution lights should be considered.

One possible safety solution is to install a caution light, like the one located on Hwy. 49 just before the Grand Bear intersection.

“That could easily be done here on Hwy. 49 and Hwy. 53,” said Lawrence.

WLOX News Now spoke with MDOT's Kelly Castleberry, who said the caution light idea is something they could review, but that intersection doesn't necessarily fit the criteria for such a warning light.

He also said there will be big changes at that intersection within the next year or so, because MDOT is moving forward with plans to widen Hwy. 49 to six lanes in that area.

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