Friday, August 07, 2009

Widening original route will save homes and expense

A letter by Lily Smith was in today's Sun Herald. Also remember the meeting August 11th at the Latimer Community Center, we need a good turnout so MDOT will know we are serious about not wanting Highway 15 in our community.

Widening original route will save homes and expense

If MDOT will merely widen Mississippi 15 at its current location fewer people will lose their homes. There is a big difference between widening an existing highway and creating a completely new road. Please, people, look at the maps of alternate routes on MDOT’s Web site before making ignorant comments.

Currently most of Mississippi 15 goes through wildlife management areas, so few people will be affected by a widening at its current location. Most homeowners along Mississippi 15 live far enough from the road that they will not lose their homes if it is widened at its current location.

An ignorant post on the comment board saying that residents of Latimer “only like to put a mobile home on their property, and live partly on the government,” couldn’t be further from the truth. The majority of people who live in Latimer live in well-maintained brick houses on which they pay property taxes. Estimated median household income for residents of Latimer in 2007 was $46,951. The estimated median house value in Latimer in 2007 was $124,138.

Also, taking Mississippi 15 through Latimer and connecting it to Mississippi 57 does not give us another evacuation route north. It merely connects Mississippi 15 to an existing route that Coast residents can already use. We evacuated on Highway 57 for Katrina and there was very little traffic, which makes me wonder if all those people who complain about the congestion on U.S. 49 are even willing to use an alternate route. If we do need more routes going north, then widening Mississippi 15 at its current location is the most sensible thing to do.

Thankfully, according to Red Stringfellow with MDOT, the staff is working on another alternative — one that would extend the highway north from I-110, rather than taking it east through Latimer and Jackson County. I commend MDOT for listening to the residents and coming up with an alternative to destroying our homes.

LILY SMITH

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