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Benefield seeks transportation comm. post

A candidate for southern district transportation commissionerThursday touted the importance of having safe transportationinfrastructure and the role it plays in communities’ economicdevelopment opportunities.

Republican candidate Larry Benefield visited Brookhaven Thursdayduring his campaign to represent 27 counties as southern districttransportation commissioner. Benefield is facing incumbent WayneBrown, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election.

Among the issues Benefield discussed during an interview withThe DAILY LEADER was cluster lighting for the Brookway Boulevardinterchange along Interstate 55. The candidate said he was aware ofand supportive of the community’s efforts to get cluster lightingfor that area.

“It’s a safety issue, and those should be at the forefront,”Benefield said.

State transportation officials have agreed to fund the lightingproject, provided the local community agrees to maintenance and tocover light removal costs if ever needed. When the project will bedone, though, is not certain.

Benefield cited transportation-related concerns seen during his15 years as a Harrison County supervisor among his reasons forseeking the state office.

“I don’t think we’re being heard at MDOT,” Benefield said.”We’re not getting the attention, I think, we need to have as localofficials.”

Benefield said he hoped to build consensus on the transportationcommission and to address transportation-related concerns of localofficials. That includes making sure communities are not bypassedby transportation projects that could threaten economic developmentopportunities for those communities.

During his campaign, Benefield said he had heard from officialsand citizens about the importance of transportation safety in theirareas.

“Every community seems to have a particular intersection, road,bridge … where there’s a lot of injuries and deaths,” saidBenefield.