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Equipment needed with winter storm

In three weeks’ time, Mississippians have seen snow and ice four times and on two occasions the weather caused travel to become treacherous in portions of southwest Mississippi and Central Louisiana.

A week or so ago we suggested that, perhaps, local and state leaders needed to reassess the value of investing in more road equipment to help address such icy weather.

A few may have given it some passing thought, but mostly publicly scoffed at the notion. “This doesn’t happen often enough to justify the cost,” they said.

Has the fourth bout of frozen precipitation changed their minds? What about the toxic chemical spill into the Mississippi River Wednesday because of the icy bridge in Vicksburg? Did that cause any change of heart? Probably not.

The idea that a rare likelihood doesn’t justify the cost of something seems to be applied indiscriminately.

Taxpayer money staffs fire stations 24-7, but only a fraction of our state’s structures catch fire each year. But few people would suggest not having a professional firefighting effort.

Similarly, Adams County pledged $171,000 to provide a federal match for a new state-of-the-art FEMA storm shelter to be constructed near Natchez High School.

That money is a wise investment, supporters say, because the match will — with the help of federal dollars — yield a $3.4 million shelter. That said the likelihood of a killer tornado hitting the area and the warning being fast enough for residents or even nearby school children to get to the shelter seems slim.

We’re not suggesting the city, county or state go out and spend tens of millions of dollars on snow and ice removal equipment. We’re simply suggesting they keep an open mind and publicly consider options. What would it take to fully provide the Mississippi Department of Transportation with enough equipment to keep major thoroughfares safe?

Knowing that number probably isn’t as complicated as some people might suggest.

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