GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - How many of you have wondered if you were about to puncture your tires while crossing the tracks on 13th Street in downtown Gulfport? That bumpy railroad crossing two blocks from the Port of Gulfport is about to be redone. Kansas City Southern Railway Company is upgrading its tracks and crossings from Gulfport to Hattiesburg with some of the funding coming from a federal grant.
Detour signs diverted drivers away from 13th Street railroad tracks where crews were hard at work on Monday. Some drivers said they usually avoid the route anyway because the condition of the crossing has been so bad.
"They've been in pretty bad shape for quite awhile. Quite a few years," driver Shannon Tappan said. "I've got a car with pretty skinny tires and you couldn't go over it maybe 10 miles an hour. It felt like you were driving a log truck. It was terrible.
"I actually have to drive back and forth on this road going home and it's a bumpy ride. It slows the traffic down," said Lori Plauche, manager at Bacchus restaurant. "It is a little frustrating. Your car is making all these weird noises."
The big winner from Kansas City Southern Railway's Gulfport Improvement Project is the Port of Gulfport. Port Director Jonathan Daniels said the upgrades mean once trains leaving the port get outside the city limits, they'll be able to travel up to 49 miles per hour.
"By making the improvements, it not only enhances efficiency, but it also improves the safety conditions," Daniels said. "Any time you're putting in new rail, new ties, new crossings, and new rubber infill, it not only makes smoother traveling for the trains, but also for the people of the Gulf Coast as they're traveling across these crossings."
Drivers look forward to the days of better crossing.
"It couldn't be any worse," said Tappan. "It will probably be a big improvement."
Plauche said, "We're very excited to see that they're working on getting this road smoothed out. I think it's going to promote business down here for the retail and restaurants on 27th Avenue especially, and we're very excited about that."
Crews expect to work at the 13th Street crossing through this week then move on to Pass Road.