Saucier Drivers Happy To Get New Traffic Light

SAUCIER (WLOX) -- Marsha Evans spends most of her time creating art from beads. It is a form of therapy to improve her hand coordination skills. Evans is still recovering, mainly emotionally, from a serious accident one year ago in front of Saucier Elementary School. The injuries may prevent the third grade teacher from returning to the classroom.

"I know I will never be able to do that again. It's hard to realize that, but I miss the kids," said Marsha Evans.

Evans and her husband have pleaded with the Mississippi Transportation Department to install a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 67 and 49. There have been 42 accidents there since 2005. Three of them were fatal.

"I am just glad they're putting one up, because now the children will be safe," Evans said. "Because that's what I was always scared of. The same thing that happened to me may happen to one of the kids. I was lucky, and the kids may not be."

"It's going to make more people slow down," said Sam Evans. "Is it going to stop the lead feet? No. Nothing does. But it will bring attention to a lot of people who are defensive drivers, that there's a dangerous intersection there."

"I've had many hurdles, many hurdles. But it is so worth it," said Cynthia Fairley.

Fairley also pushed for a light by spearheading rallies and petition drives. She owns a salon close to the school, and has three children who attend Saucier Elementary.

"It would kill this community if something else happened to one of those children. Very sad," said Fairley. "So I am so thankful. I'm very overjoyed. For the 530 kids that go to that school, plus all the teachers and parents who come from a four mile radius to drop their children off. What a relief that we're going to have a light there to stop the traffic, to make sure it's safe to get into the school."

According to Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown, the decision to install a traffic light had nothing to do with public outcry or political pressure. Instead, it was based on a study that looked at traffic count, accident records, and other factors.

Besides installing a traffic light, MDOT will also reconfigure the intersection and put in turning lanes. Despite all the planning and promises, Cynthia Fairley is still skeptical.

"What they say and what they do are two different things, so I'm just praying they really are. I'm going to hold them to it too," said Fairley.

"I'm glad we're getting one. Better late than never," said Sam Evans. "I just would like to see it now and not the end of the year."

The traffic light and other changes at the intersection are expected to cost between $500,000 and $1 million. MDOT hopes to receive federal safety funds to help pay for the project.