By Alyssa Schnugg
A petition calling for changes on Highway 6 East near the F.D. “Buddy” East Parkway intersection has garnered more than 5,000 signatures since Oxford resident Carrie Long created it online.
Long said she already didn’t like the yellow yield turn arrows at the intersections.
But after the tragic wreck that occurred there last week, resulting in the deaths of Matt Ellington and his two children, Long noted other changes that could be made to make the intersection safer.
“Simple measures can be taken to reduce the risk of tragedy occurring again and increase safety for all traveling in this area during and after school hours,” Long said.
Her suggestions on the petition include:
- Turn off the yield function on the turn lane lights at Highway 6 and F.D. Buddy East Parkway.
- Red (stop) turn signal when oncoming traffic has a green light.
- Green turn signal when oncoming traffic has a red light.
- Extend the 55 mph zone to at least 0.5 miles to the east of the Parkway intersection. The speed limit currently increases to 65 mph west of the F.D. Buddy East Parkway.
- Initiate a 45 mph zone with signs and flashing lights from at least 0.25 miles west of the Highway 6/Highway 334 exit to at least the 0.25 mile east of the Highway 6/F.D. Buddy East Parkway intersection during Lafayette School drop off and pick up hours on school days.
- Add rumble strips on Highway 6 approaching the F.D. Buddy East Parkway intersection.
“After the accident Thursday morning, I took more notice of where the speed limit changes are in that area – the Highway 6 speed limit through the Buddy East intersection is 65 mph — and signage/lights,” Long said. “The idea for adding rumble strips came from members of an Oxford parents’ group.”
None of the changes suggested in the petition would require structural or design changes to the intersection.
“They are all basically simple, very inexpensive, superficial changes that I feel would dramatically increase the safety in the area for all traveling there, but especially for our children going to Lafayette schools,” Long said.
Long said she plans on presenting the petition to city, county and Mississippi Department of Transportation officials after it has circulated for about a week. As of Tuesday morning, 5,279 people signed the petition and the number keeps going up.
“The people of Oxford are very community-centered and want the very best for our town and residents,” Long said.
The city of Oxford is responsible for the maintenance of the traffic signal as a result of the annexation in 2018; however, city staff must coordinate and receive approval for any changes that affect the traffic on Highway 6 with MDOT, according to City Engineer Reanna Mayoral.
“We are heartbroken for this family first and foremost,” she said. “Our top priority is always the safety of our citizens.”
Once the investigation of Thursday’s wreck is completed by the Oxford Police Department, Mayoral said that the city’s engineering department will review all the available vehicle wreck history at the intersection.
“I feel certain the city would support a reduced speed limit in this area,” Mayoral said. “Without having the historical accident data, I can’t speak to the other requests in the petition (at this time).”