Efforts to clear up traffic

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Traffic in the area of Wal-Mart and the other stores in that area soon will under go a change, at least on trial basis.

The plan being tried will attempt to allow shoppers access the other stores in the area without having to go through Wal-Mart’s parking lot, said Interim City Manager Harvey Miller.

Apparently, stores near Wal-Mart have complained that their business is suffering since shoppers must first drive through Wal-Mart’s parking lot to shop at adjacent stores, Miller said.

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The change will allow shoppers to drive straight to their desired store, instead of first driving through Wal-Mart’s parking lot.

Picayune Police Deputy Chief David Ervin said he has had talks with Picayune’s Public Works Director Chad Frierson and they agreed that a four-way stop at the shopping center entrance would only cause traffic to back up on to Memorial Boulevard. Instead, the intersection will remain a three-way stop. Traffic coming into the shopping center from Memorial Boulevard will be allowed to enter without stopping. Ervin reminds motorists that vehicles turning into the shopping center off of Memorial Boulevard must come to a complete stop before making a right turn at the red light.

Stopping at the red light before taking that right turn will allow motorists turning off of Ridge Road towards Memorial Boulevard the opportunity to do so, Ervin said. State Law mandates that all motorists comply with the stop at a red light before making a right turn on red. Citations will be written for violators, Ervin said.

The traffic change will go into effect at 8 a.m. April 14, Miller said. During the trial, officials will observe traffic patterns to ensure adverse traffic situations do not arise as a result of the change. Ervin said the department’s traffic division, consisting of four motorcycles and two cruisers, will monitor the area closely during this trial period. Ervin said he does not foresee any problems with the change during everyday situations. The department will be looking for problems during holidays or other special situations.

Ervin asks motorists to be mindful of each other as they enter and leave the intersection of the shopping center. An analysis of the accidents at that intersection will be made and Lt. Chad Dorn will monitor the trends that arise.

An increase in the number of traffic violations has been noted at the department, Ervin said. The department is working to improve traffic issues so the trend does not continue.

One of the new problems the department has noticed deals with motorists using the turn lane on U.S. 11 illegally to get to the intersection of U.S. 11 and Miss. 43 North. Chief Jim Luke and Ervin said they have seen people using that turn lane as a short cut to the intersection. Luke and Ervin said they personally pulled a vehicle over for the practice.

“That is a turn lane only,” Ervin said.

Violating that law could create a safety hazard with head-on collisions as other motorists attempt to turn in to businesses, such as Sonic.