Long Beach officials have growing safety concerns on railroad tracks

Long Beach officials have growing safety concerns on railroad tracks

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday's ruling by the NTSB has sent up warning signs for all cities along the Coast. The ruling put Biloxi partially to blame for the deadly bus crash last year.

Some say all the blame should be on CSX. It's a big concern in Long Beach that has nine crossings and only one is designated for tractor-trailers.

Bill Skaggs knows well the sound of a truck getting stuck on the tracks. "All I hear is "Crrruuunncchhh."

He knows well what to do. "I know what's happened. So, usually, if I'm inside or in my workshop, I'll come out here and I'll see them, and I'll go up to them and say, 'OK, we've got a problem."

Then he calls police to stop the trains. "There's one a week, sometimes more, sometimes it doesn't happen for a month or so," Skaggs said. "But it's going to happen."

He fears the worse. "I really do have a fear that the train's going to continue, once it hits the truck, he's going to continue coming into my house."

Skaggs lives at the corner of Richards Avenue and First Street right at the railroad crossing. That's where most trucks get stuck as they are heading to Cedar Creek lumber distribution place.

A management official tells WLOX News that these are independent drivers using GPS. But he tells as many drivers as he can to use Jeff Davis Avenue.

"The focus is that we've got to let everybody know that comes through the city that there's one truck route to cross the tracks in Long Beach and that's Jeff Davis Avenue," said Long Beach Mayor George Bass.

He said there is no clear solution. "GPS doesn't measure, can you cross that track or doesn't have that warning built into it," he said. "Perhaps bigger flashing signs. I don't know what it's going to take to be able to get the attention of the truck drivers."

Skaggs doesn't blame the city. "CSX owns those tracks," he said. "They should be the ones responsible and make sure that they are safe."

Bass agreed, "We have very little control of what CSX does with those railroad tracks," he said. "Over the years, the elevation has gone up on those tracks. We have very little room on either side of the tracks to work a grade, proper grade, to get up to be able to cross over those tracks."

Bass said he is willing to talk to CSX about closing some of the crossings, but as it is with Biloxi, the city would have to have a costly east-west corridor expansion to handle the traffic.

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