Three young Mississippians, two of them just 16 years old, died Friday from injuries sustained in a car wreck just inside the New Albany city limits.
The two 16-year-old boys were heading south on Davis Road. Witnesses said the teenage driver was traveling at a high speed, dangerously passed another vehicle, lost control and collided head-on with a northbound car. The two teenagers died at the scene. A man in the other car, a 49-year-old husband and father, died a few hours later.
The accident occurred on a hilly, curvy, narrow, black-topped road, like thousands of miles of such secondary roads in Mississippi. It might actually be a little better than the average, Davis Road having had new blacktop applied in recent years.
It had been raining and the pavement was slick when the wreck occurred at 4:45 p.m. Friday, August 23.
There is no known solution to the impetuosity of teenagers, or to the fact that, certain in their young hearts that they will live forever, they often drive carelessly. We can’t do anything about the rain or the fact that cloudy skies reduce visibility.
However, we can and should be doing something to improve the secondary roads of Mississippi.
Governors and legislators are responsible for infrastructure
This tragic accident is a fresh reminder that the last several Mississippi governors and the state legislative leadership has failed for decades to step up to the problem of making our roads safer. It’s been 32 years since the state of Mississippi has undertaken major and comprehensive improvements in our roads and highways.
Every year MDOT asks the legislature for money to make meaningful improvements in the state’s roads and bridges. And every year recent governors and legislatures have failed even to come up with enough funding to patch up what we already have. This is not to suggest that Davis Road is the worst or that it should get the highest priority for improvement if the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) had adequate money to do all the work that needs to be done around the state.
One candidate in tomorrow’s Republican run-off election is actually proud of the fact that he has blocked recent efforts to fund needed improvement in the states roads and bridges. Lieutenant-Governor Tate Reeves has worked for years to block significant investment in our roads and bridges.
Voters must examine claims and motivation
Yet, Reeves had the gall to claim in a direct mail brochure a few days ago that he had “Passed a $1.2-Billion Plan to Improve Roads & Bridges WITHOUT Raising Taxes.” (Excessive use of capital letters his, not ours.) Beyond that, it simply isn’t true.
Reeves is apparently referring to the “improvements” in 2018 that were to be financed by sales taxes on Internet purchases and dubious revenues anticipated from a state lottery that still hasn’t been launched. It wasn’t close to enough money to repair what’s falling apart, much less make improvements.
Reeves’ opponent in tomorrow’s run-off, former Mississippi Chief Justice William Waller, Jr., has made it clear that he has the courage to raise gasoline taxes to make real improvements in Mississippi’s roads.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a political ally of Waller, is all but assured of being the new lieutenant-governor in January. Hosemann also favors raising gasoline taxes to improve state roads.
There may be light at the end of that long, dark tunnel of Mississippi roads, overgrown with trees and brush, crowding up to within a few feet of narrow pavement. Consider that when you vote tomorrow. Don’t let the light go out.
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