Struck Walker Shows Need for Safety Work near Mississippi University

November 14, 2016

A pedestrian advocacy group again seeks safety improvements after a Mississippi State University student was struck Saturday night.

Police arrested 22-year-old Jaleen Jenkins for aggravated DUI, driving with a suspended license and no proof of insurance, and have jailed him on $50,000 bond. Emily Case, a freshman political science major from Virginia, is recovering at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Starkville in Motion President David Harned tells the Commercial Dispatch that the collision again shows the need for work along Blackjack and Oktoc roads. The area, on the southeast side of the university campus, has developed rapidly with 1,600 student apartments, putting more walkers and cyclists on roads now choked with traffic.

“In the short term, the best thing to do is to turn that entire area into a school zone and add more lighting and striped areas for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross. For the long term, that whole area needs to be redesigned in a way to safely handle the traffic,” he said.

Students say the road needs a crosswalk. On Monday, Ffion Price was among Mississippi State students crossing Oktoc and Blackjack roads near where they join in a roundabout.

“It’s pretty bad for a lot of the time,” said Price, a second-year kinesiology graduate student. “You get some drivers who do stop, but you get a lot of people that don’t.”

Oktibbeha County had proposed taxing area properties to add sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and other safety improvements in 2014. But they never moved forward, in part because a third apartment complex expected to provide property taxes was never built.

District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the county may discuss paying for improvements using a recent property tax increase for roads.

“We’ve still got Blackjack Road on our radar, but it all comes down to money,” he said.

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