Speed Blamed For Accidents In Construction Zone

Warning signs and flashing arrows alert drivers to the construction zone between Saucier and McHenry.

But some drivers and public officials say more is needed on that busy stretch of Highway 49. Some people are calling for concrete barricades to separate traffic through the work zone.

That's possible, but not likely according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

There's one thing most everyone agrees on. Speeding is what's making that area unsafe.

The construction zone stretches for five miles on a heavily traveled stretch of Highway 49. Log trucks and 18 wheelers are among the frequent vehicles rolling by.

Sue Rodgers lives nearby.

"I think people just all of a sudden come up on this. And they're flying. Next thing you know, they're in an accident," she said.

Rodgers worries about the increasing accidents and the foggy mornings winter will bring. She favors some sort of lane dividers.

"People aren't slowing down. And then they have these little orange toothpick things between the traffic. And they need something bigger than that. They need a barricade of some sort to let people know this is here," Rodgers explained.

"They need to slow that thing down out there way before it gets where it's going," said Glenda Loper as she rung up a customer at the McHenry convenience store.

Loper blames speed for the recent rash of accidents. She watches drivers fly past her store, then hit the brakes just before merging.

"I can't pull out here 'cause mine don't take off fast enough. I don't have enough speed behind my vehicle. When they come over that hill they're going really fast," said Loper.

District construction engineer, Steve Twedt, says the most important thing to improving safety here is increasing public awareness. Drivers need to pay attention to this construction zone and slow down. Twedt also told WLOX News he doesn't believe concrete barriers would have prevented any of the recent accidents.

M-DOT says safety measures include signs preventing left turns through the construction zone and reducing the posted speed through the area.

Concrete barriers are not part of M-DOT's plan for this project. But Sue Rodgers thinks they'd help.

"People just need to be aware. And if we got better barricades, more markings, then they would know it was there," she said.

Stone County sheriff Mike Ballard says there have been ten to twelve accidents in the work zone since the road construction began.

He too favors some type of lane divider, like concrete barricades or plastic barrels to separate the traffic lanes.