Close calls and fatal car-train collisions are the main reasons why CSX and MDOT want to close 30 railroad crossings in South Mississippi. CSX and MDOT say the more crossings they close, the lower the risk of car-train collisions. The ones targeted for closure also have low traffic count.
Steven Edwards is the Rails Division Engineer for MDOT.
"Because these are low traffic crossings, they don't have a whole lot of average daily traffic, and because they have frankly other crossings that are real close to them".
Transportation engineers met with the Ocean Springs mayor Thursday, hoping to convince the city to close two crossings -- one at Church Street, the other at Thorn Avenue.
Mayor Seren Ainsworth said, "We wanted to look at the safety issue first, and then we wanted to look at how it would affect the businesses around the two closings".
Lounge owner Chubby Beaugez thinks closing the crossings is a bad idea. He said it would be a big blow to his business because customers would have a hard time reaching him.
"They can't come when the school traffic's out there on Government Street, because there's so many cars. Besides that, your traffic is getting heavier and heavier, and we need more outlets. We don't have that many outlets here," Beaugez said.
The crossings that will remain open in Ocean Springs will get some much-needed safety improvements. Some of the changes include better signals, crossing gates, and smoother concrete surfaces. Transportation officials say the crossing upgrades and closures are precautions they need to take to prevent tragedy on the tracks.
The mayor will present the railroad crossing proposal to the Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen on March 2nd. The board plans to hold a public hearing on the matter on March 16th at 6 p.m.