Train Tracks Study Should Continue Despite Opposition

The study started last year and will continue, despite opposition from Jackson County, to look at moving the tracks. The federally funded study is looking at environmental impact, costs and the best place to move the tracks. Supporters say  moving the tracks will create more east west roads and prevent car/train accidents.

"I think CSX is gotta put a lot of skin in the game, not just the state, not just the federal government, to the cities, they need to put a lot of skin in the game before it becomes reality," Gulfport Ward 6 Councilman Chuck Teston says.

"It'll open up a new corridor for Harrison County, South Mississippi, Jackson County. They would still get their service down to Jackson County by spurs but the rapid speed rails that we're talkin' about now, that go 100 miles an hour cannot do it on these tracks that we have now."

North is where supporters of moving the tracks say they should go. But how far north? The engineering company doing the study recommends relocating them north of I-10, but Senator Trent Lott says that's too expensive.

"The routes that they're lookin' at, are in my opinion, are too far north and are unaffordable because they now are talkin' about a cost that would be well over a billion dollars."

And Lott says that's more than Congress is willing to pay.

"I do not think that I would be able to get the necessary federal funds for a program of that magnitude. I do think it's something we should continue to consider."

Although there are high hopes the tracks will one day be moved,  Teston says don't expect it anytime soon.

"My experience bein' an elected official,  we talk a lot with very little action. I think I'll be dust before this gets done."

Lott says his vision is to move the tracks closer to I-10,  either in the median or the right of way. He predicts that to cost four to five hundred million dollars. The study is expected to wrap up next year.