Gulfport Council Wants Closed Railroad Crossings Reopened

Drivers headed south on 18th Avenue in Gulfport have to detour around the barricades that block the railroad crossing.

Gulfport resident Leanne Peckinpaugh says, "It's a little frustrating to have to go around and go down a few intersections to get over to Second Street."

Council members are frustrated too and worry about citizens' safety.

"Fire trucks, police cars and American Medical Response can't get directly to a situation when they need to. They have to go in a round about way and it's just totally uncalled for," says Ward 7 Councilman Billy Hewes.

Ward 5 Councilman Ricky Dombrowski says, "There is no cooperation whatsoever between the City of Gulfport, CSX and MDOT. Their idea, whatever they wanna do they're gonna do and they don't care the way we feel."

The council fought the same battle when CSX closed the Pratt Avenue crossing. It finally reopened, but at the expense of the 18th Avenue crossing which closed about six months ago.

"It's their problem, their liability. They need to put up crossings and just not close city right of ways to go over their tracks," says Dombrowski.

Hewes agrees CSX and MDOT should install safety equipment at the crossing, and he calls for even more drastic action.

"I think we need a change in the MDOT regime up there. They probably need to fire half of them and send the other half over to Houston, Texas and let them learn how to build roads and come back over here and do it right," Hewes says.

The council will try to meet with CSX and MDOT to resolve what Hewes and Dombrowski say could be a brewing legal battle.

Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown told us there's not money to equip and maintain all the crossings in the state. He says closing about 30-percent of the crossings would allow his agency to maintain the heaviest traveled ones. Brown says he will try to arrange a meeting between his agency, CSX and the Gulfport council.