SUMRALL, MS (WDAM) - Officials hope an improvement project in Lamar County will make the intersection at Highway 589 and Oloh Road safer.
Two Sumrall volunteer firefighters were killed by a hit-and-run driver Wednesday evening while working another incident at the location. A third firefighter was also struck by the vehicle, but has been released from the hospital.
Lamar County Supervisor Dale Lucas said the county has been working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation for changes along the highway and Oloh Road for some time now.
"It's been a project, through our state aid, county engineering and MDOT," said Lucas. "Unfortunately, we had a plan in place, but this tragedy happened before it could be implemented."
Mississippi Highway Patrol said there were approximately 52 accidents on highway 589 in 2016. Not all of those were at the Oloh Road intersection, but Lamar Count officials say that intersection has had a history of incidents.
Residents have expressed their concern when it comes to speed and safety along the highway heading into and out of town. One resident told WDAM 7 the highway is "like driving on Daytona 500."
"It's so aggravating that people are speeding, but when they are coming in to town, they don't slow down," said resident Mickey Graham. "And that speed up there, where people are entering and exiting from Oloh Road, its a problem."
"People use that as a yield, really. People will actually slow down, but when they see nothing's coming, they will shoot right down the highway and shoot to Sumrall," said Lucas. "You really need an intersection that 'T's', so all vehicles have to come to a stop. That's the safest intersection you'll have."
MDOT said the resurfacing project is a regular maintenance overlay project that has been underway since October 2016. Discussions between MDOT and Lamar County took place before the project got underway about making some minor adjustments to the intersection of 589 with Oloh Road. Those adjustments, including the addition of a turn lane and minor striping changes, will be implemented under this current project.
MDOT sad the project is on schedule. Adjustments to the intersection at Scruggs Road have also been planned as part of this project and work is on track to be completed this summer.