Four-way stop coming to busy Lamar County road

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Lamar County Road Department is adding two stop signs to a busy intersection in hopes of improving driver safety.

The county is creating a four-way stop on Purvis to Baxterville Road at Coal Town Road and Alexander Road.

"Few weeks back we actually lowered the speed limit down to 35 in that area, and that hasn't helped any at all with the speed issue that's going on," said Tommy Jones, Lamar County Road Manager. "We want folks to be aware that as they come into that area with the traffic that's entering into Purvis to Baxterville from either side - Alexander or Coal Town -that there's a possibility for a severe accident, so we're just trying to make it as safe as we can for all of the motoring public."

In addition to the stop signs, the county also shaved down a hill at the intersection to improve sightlines for drivers, which is something Saralyn Lee, who drives along Purvis to Baxterville Road everyday, said was much needed.

"I travel this road quite often, and sometimes it can be a bit of a hazard when we're coming this way," Lee said. "Sometimes our vision could be impaired. I think it's going to be a good thing. It's just going to be hard getting used to it, having to slow down and just being aware that there's a stop coming up."

Peggy Vowell, who has lived in the area her entire life, thinks that transition is going to create a bigger hazard for drivers.

"It's going to be a big adjustment," Vowell said. "There's heavy, heavy trucks that travel this road from Baxterville, and I'm afraid that it's going to be really dangerous. It's been a two-way stop for as long as I can remember, and I'm afraid that it being a four-way stop is going to cause numerous accidents."

Jeff Cruise has lived on the corner of Purvis to Baxteville Road and Coal Town Road for 50 years, and also thinks the stop signs will cause problems for fast drivers.

"This new four-way stop here is going to be real dangerous for a real long time," he said. "The people come by here doing 70 and 80 miles an hour sometimes, and it's not a heavily patrolled road. You people better slow down coming out to Purvis to Baxterville Road."

Jones said his department is trying to make the change as apparent as possible for drivers by adding signs preparing drivers to stop well in advance of the intersection, purchasing LED lighted warning signs and stop signs for the intersection and installing rumble strips onto the road.

Vowell thinks those strips should help reduce drivers' speed.

"It should, yes," she said. "I did not know they were going to put the strips, so that will help a lot."

Jones said slowing drivers down to hopefully prevent accidents is the reason for the change.

"We've had several near misses there," Jones said. "Some actually could've been fatalities in that area with just seconds different, so we're doing everything we can to protect everyone that's traveling through that area."

Jones said according Lamar County Sheriff's Department records, there have been 12 accidents at the intersection of those three roads in the last 6 years.

"It's a safety issue," Jones said. "There's not a good spot to be in a wreck. Whether you get hit or you're doing the hitting, it's going to be bad. We just want to make sure that we keep everybody traveling just as safe as we can throughout every road in Lamar County, and that just happens to be one of the most dangerous intersections that we're dealing with."

Mississippi State Troopers recently spent just three hours patrolling Purvis to Baxterville Road near the intersection and gave 31 citations.

"I think it will take some time (to adjust) definitely, but I think it will be a benefit," Lee said.

The new stop signs go into effect at 8 a.m. on Monday, June 26.