By Cain Madden/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – In 2008, Saltillo resident Karen Webb was T-boned by a speeding driver as she crossed U.S. Highway 45 at the Euclatubba Road intersection.
While she suffered a stroke due to the impact, the worst loss was her 2-year-old son, Jack. The child’s grandmother, Deborah Webb, was working in Memphis when she received the call that her grandson was dead.
“You never want to get that call,” Deborah Webb said. “But you really don’t want to get it when you are over 100 miles away.”
Wednesday afternoon, the Mississippi Department of Transportation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a memorial bridge that goes over U.S. 45 and connects to Euclatubba Road. Due to rain, the bridge’s opening was delayed until today, said MDOT District 1 Engineer Bill Jamieson.
“Hopefully no more lives will be lost,” Deborah Webb said. “The new bridge will hopefully mean that families such as ours will not have to deal with this kind of grief.”
The event started at the overpass, but soon moved to Saltillo City Hall due to a downpour that started as soon as the officials were set to speak. Mayor Bill Williams, state Sen. Nancy Adams Collins and MDOT Northern District Commissioner Mike Tagert spoke.
“Even on a day like today, with reduced vision caused by the rain, you can see what the overpass means,” Tagert said. “The main reason we are doing this is safety. It is our mission to do everything we can to ensure public safety.”
The bridge cost $6.9 million and was funded by the Highway Safety Improvement Program. Construction began in July 2009.
With the goal of public safety, Williams said the bridge’s impact can’t be quantified.
“Just like you cannot measure the pain suffered by those who have lost loved ones at the intersection, we cannot measure the number of families who will never know this pain,” Williams said.
Williams said the intersection will also open up a major artery for economic development in Saltillo.
Another event will be held sometime during the fall to dedicate the memorial bridge with a name, when the bridge is fully completed.