Biloxi continues effort to close six railroad crossings

Biloxi continues effort to close six railroad crossings
On Tuesday, the Biloxi City Council will consider a contract for an engineering design to connect the access road from Dorries Street to Crawford Street. Once built, that would allow the city to close three crossings immediately.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi is moving forward with its plans to close six railroad crossings as soon as possible.

In order to complete that project, a new road needs to be built. This Tuesday, city leaders are hoping to get things started.

Some residents in the area aren't so sold on the idea. Life along the tracks in East Biloxi is a mess.

Infrastructure work has taken its toll.

"Our kids have to breathe in this dirt, and we can only do it for so long to where it's going to start showing effects," said resident James Roberts.

Roberts and friend LaDon Teel have lived in the area for decades.

"We love the progress - post Katrina - but, at the same time, people live here and are totally inconvenienced," Teel said. "The roads are a mess and have been a mess for how long?"

For some in this neighborhood already suffering from the ongoing infrastructure work, the prospect of closing railroad crossings is just another burden to bear.

Roberts said crossing guards would be a better idea.

"I've lost friends to this railroad track and to these crossings, you know," he said. "Over time, yes, we definitely need to have something done about that, but I just think that is the wrong way to kind of do it because we need access."

Before the city closes any crossings, a road north of the tracks must be complete to allow residents easier and safer access south of the tracks.

On Tuesday, the city council will consider a contract with Neel-Schaffer Inc. to do an engineering design to connect the access road from Dorries Street to Crawford Street.

Anderson Sullivan, who travels this area all the time, likes the idea.

"I think for this railroad and the one behind me and the one in the front is a lot of safety hazards, so I think it would be good to be closed and widen the street," he said.

Once the connector is built, Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard said it would allow the city to close three crossings immediately.

CSX won't give Biloxi permission to extend Popp's Ferry Road over the tracks until it closes three crossings. City officials want to start that project in 2019.

Part of the funding will be the $700,000 from the HUD Community Development Block Grant that could not be used to renovate the Saenger Theater.

Leonard said another $900,000 would be needed to complete the road and to close the crossings.

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