MDOT clearing trees in hopes of reducing deadly crashes - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

MDOT clearing trees in hopes of reducing deadly crashes

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
COPIAH COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Trees are being reduced to mulch on the side of I-55 in an 11 mile stretch and it's all part of a road rehab project that MDOT officials are overseeing.

They are taking more of the right of way than they have in recent years.

The distance of 50 feet is now the norm for creating a buffer zone off the sides of interstates.

MDOT officials now clearing trees and any obstructions that could come in contact with an out of control vehicle.

"Since January 1 of 2010, we've had almost 14,000 run off the road in accidents that have hit trees," said Linda McGrath, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation

McGrath says the 'clear zones' will reduce traffic fatalities involving cars hitting trees, many of whom involve drivers who were distracted.

"Our number one goal at the Department of Transportation is to reduce the number of fatalities and severe injuries on our roads to zero," explained McGrath. "And we know the best way to do that is to maintain that clear zone buffer."

Several deadly wrecks involving cars off the road and trees have been recorded in this stretch of I-55 in Copiah County in recent months.

Since 2010, the state has recorded over 640 deaths of the same nature - a number they would like to stop from growing.

"This is a small cost, it's like an $11 million project, and the clearing is about $800,000," added McGrath. "That is a small cost to save a human life."

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