Three Bay Crossings On Closing List

Bay St. Louis residents and city leaders are gearing up for a railroad crossing showdown. Three of the 30 railroad crossings CSX and the State Department of Transportation wants to close are in the Bay.

The plan would also add gates, bells and lights to all the city's unprotected crossings. But if residents and city leaders have their way the rail crossing closures won't happen.

"I live approximately 500 feet from the railroad crossing."

Sandra Price has lived near the Sycamore Street crossing, one of the three targeted for closure, for nearly 30 years.

"I would feel trapped. I would feel boxed in. If I need to call the police, I don't think he'd have enough access to get back here. I want to be able to call on an officer or a medical unit and know they have different options to come here."

Fellow Bay St. Louis resident Marilyn Smith echoed Price's concerns.

"It's personal for me as far as convenience is concerned, because my grand boys are here and I live over on the next street. It's easy for me to get here."

The Citizen Street crossing is also on the proposed closure list.

"We're against it. We use the crossing two often and it would be a very big inconvenience to us for it to be closed," Bay resident Susan Livingston said.

The owner of one of the city's oldest businesses, "McDonald Hardware," says closing the Toulme Streets crossing could hurt business.

"This is a busy artery and a lot of our traffic comes from the South end of town and Waveland area through here. And we just feel like it would create a hardship on our customers," Jim McDonald said.

Community Development Director Buz Olsen says city leaders are behind him and others all the way.

"The city is going to be very adamant that closing any crossing is not anything that they want to do."

He says Council Members and the Mayor have gone on record opposing any closings, even if CSX and MDOT agree to build new roads along the tracks to give residents who would be cut off access to the nearest opened crossing.

On the issue of building new access roads, an MDot Spokeswoman told us, "We will work with the communities to determine what's needed." But said no decisions would be made until public hearings are held.

Bay St. Louis city leaders have scheduled a meeting with CSX and MDOT for April.

by Al Showers