Saucier May Get A Stop Light On Highway 49 - - The News for South Mississippi

Saucier May Get A Stop Light On Highway 49

One day after an accident claimed another life on Highway 49, the Saucier area may get the traffic signal so many people have wanted. MDOT officials still say a traffic light does not necessarily improve safety. However, there is a strong likelihood the Highway 49/Highway 67 intersection will get a red light next year. 

Cynthia Fairley hopes that's the case. But she's not convinced she'll get her wish. 

The beauty salon owner can certainly cut hair. What she hasn't been able to do in recent years is get MDOT to see what she sees out her window.

"Somebody takes one wrong turn and somebody is going to get hurt," Fairley said.

Her shop is just down the street from the Highway 49/Highway 67 intersection, where Saucier Elementary School children learn, and where Saucier people like Fairley want a traffic light.

"My kids are in danger. This is crazy," she said.

But in the past, MDOT has always said no to the light idea.

"I don't understand," exclaimed Fairley.

From a statistical standpoint, MDOT says the Highway 67 intersection without a traffic light is actually four-and-a-half times safer than the Highway 49/Highway 53 intersection near Gulfport that does have a light.

The only stat accident victims and their families care about is this one. Eight people have died at the intersection near Saucier Elementary School since 2005. And at least one person has been seriously injured. Sam Evans is married to that woman.

"We know we need it," he said, referring to a new light. "I wonder what difference it would have made, with my wife personally and with what has happened here over and over again, if people were forced to, or had some other warning signs that would bring their attention to the fact that it's a dangerous intersection."

Evans' wife Marcia taught at the elementary school, until a horrible accident last year nearly killed her.

"She's still with us, thank the Lord, we can't ask for much more than that," her husband said.

Evans and Fairley both heard that MDOT is considering a light at the Saucier intersection. But neither person will believe the rhetoric until the light is on, and another tragedy is averted.

"We are not going to sit here and take this," the hair stylist said.

According to Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown, MDOT is looking to see what turn lanes would be needed just in case the state approves a light in Saucier.

"It warrants a signal. So we went ahead and started on the engineering," Brown said.  

However, the light wouldn't be installed until two things happen. The new Highway 67 roadway needs to open next spring, and MDOT must complete a new traffic count study at the intersection that's causing so many problems.

Brown said it would take about a year to complete the stop light study, and install the signal. And then he issued this reminder, "A traffic signal doesn't necessarily improve safety."

by Brad Kessie

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