CATEGORY: Marshall County



By Cynthia M. Jeffries

Daily Journal

POTTS CAMP – A south Marshall County man is trying to stop or at least slow down the flow of traffic through his town.

Gerald “Gerry” Corwin of Potts Camp has been on an eight-month crusade to have a traffic light placed at the town’s only major four-way intersection. The traffic light was removed nearly two years ago when the final stage of U.S. Highway 78 opened.

“There is nothing here to stop traffic,” Corwin said. “Once you enter Potts Camp, you have a clean shot. We need a light here.

“All I’m asking for is a traffic light,” Corwin said. “It was here for decades. I see no reason why it should have been taken down.”

For at least 40 years or more, there was a traffic light at the intersection of what is now state Highway 178 and Center Street, also known as state Highway 349.

At one time, two-lane Highway 78, which runs through the town of about 600 people, was the main route between Memphis and Birmingham.

But state officials said the traffic light was no longer needed once the new four-lane highway opened because the majority of traffic was diverted from traveling through the town.

The majority of the traffic that travels through the intersection now is local.

But Corwin said speeding is still a problem, and he thinks a traffic light would help slow down traffic some. Corwin said truck drivers making local deliveries sometimes speed through the area. Some of the speeders are high-school-age children on their way to and from school.

“A half-dozen puppies have been killed,” Corwin said. “This town is full of young people and older people. Will one of them have to be hurt before something is done? I am trying to do something before something serious happens.”

There have been no fatal wrecks at the intersection since the traffic light was removed.

No studies have been done, but residents say “just by looking” they can tell that people are driving through their town too fast.

Potts Camp Mayor Earnest Cruse has joined Corwin in trying to focus attention on the problem. He and Corwin want the state to conduct a study to see if the intersection requires a traffic light. If not a light, Corwin and Cruse would settle for a four-way stop.

Currently, there are stop signs for traffic traveling along Highway 349.

Before a light is removed or put up at an intersection the state conducts a study, looking at the amount of traffic that goes through the intersection, the number of accidents that occur, and how long it takes traffic to move through the area, state officials said.

Sarah Crowell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, Traffic Engineering Division, said the state maintains several thousand traffic lights on state highways throughout the state. It costs $500,000 to install a traffic light, Crowell said. And, she said, traffic lights do little to prevent speeding.

“You don’t want to just throw a light up just to throw one up,” she said.

Corwin, 74, a Minnesota native who moved to his wife Catherine’s hometown of Potts Camp last April, has received letters from Gov. Kirk Fordice, Commissioner of Public Safety Jim Ingram and Donald O’Cain, executive director of the division of public safety planning, and other state officials saying they are looking at his request.

A former Potts Camp minister started a petition shortly after the traffic light was removed to have the state replace it. The petition was sent to the state, but nothing was done.

Not having a traffic light in a town is nothing new for Benton County, where there is not a single traffic light. The county butts up against Potts Camp and Marshall County. A traffic light on state Highway 178 in Hickory Flat was also removed once the four-lane highway opened.

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