Closing Railroad Crossings Is Not On The Right Track With Council

The Pratt Avenue railroad crossing, along with Woodward Avenue, have been closed due to repairs for almost a year.

It is one of twelve railroad crossings CSX and the Mississippi Department of Transportation say should be closed permanently for the safety of the public.

A majority of Gulfport city council members disagree, saying they are simply abiding by the wishes of their constituents.

"By CSX's failure to reopen the two crossings that we want open, it's just an extortion attempt by them just to try to get their way, and I don't like it and I don't think any of the members, any of the citizens of Gulfport like I said and the city council agree with it. We don't like it and we're not going put up with it," said council president Richard Rose.

According to Rose, CSX recently submitted a letter to the city of Gulfport regarding its recommendation to close the twelve crossings.

The letter included the statement "should the city of Gulfport decide not to participate in this package and since Harrison County is ranked third in the nation in highway railroad crossing collisions, failure of the city to participate may lead to the City incurring additional liability in future litigations."

"Their position of this was to protect themselves. It's not to protect the public. If you want to protect the public. If they want to protect the public, they would have put those railroad crossing arms and signals in a long time ago. It's all about money," said Rose.

By the end of the special meeting, the administration agreed to submit a letter to CSX to repair and reopen Pratt and Woodward Avenues.

"If they don't agree, we're going sue them," said Rose.

Ward four councilman Kim Savant is the only council member who supports the closing of the 12 railroad crossings.

"If we could have voted to close that crossing or get signal arms at some crossing that anybody gets killed at, I think it would have been the thing to do and I don't want that on my conscience but the council has spoken and I have to live with that," said Savant.

Council members will meet again on July 6.