Mayors Say They'll Keep Pushing To Move The Tracks North

A plan that's been debated and discussed for years appears to be at a dead end, at least for now. A congressional committee okayed millions of dollars for hurricane relief, but axed $700 million to buy the CSX rights of way.

Still, the mayors of Biloxi and Gulfport expect the request to show up again.

"This is one of those things that's very important, we need it to happen. I'm determined to keep shouting from the hilltops that we need it to happen," Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr said.

"It might be dead in this one but I think you'll see it come back sometime, somewhere, somehow," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said. "I think maybe we got a bum rap because some of the legislators up there thought we were trying to take advantage of the situation we have here now and use that as a means to get in."

Mayor Warr says the hurricane stressed, more than ever, the need for other east/west routes.

"Highway 90 has been destroyed more than once. It was clearly destroyed in this storm. We need the ability to be able to function with a very effective east/west corridor so we don't have the traffic jams like we had on Pass Road and other places," Warr said.

The idea of relocating the tracks is to make Highway 90 a Scenic Drive. Mayor Holloway says it already is.

"People want to travel Highway 90, they want to look at that water and they want to look at the beach. So it would've taken some of the local traffic off for them to get to and from someplace, but tourists are going to get on Highway 90," Holloway said.

Anthony Topazi is one of the more vocal cheerleaders for the CSX move. He chairs the transportation committee of the governor's post Katrina commission. He told WLOX News, "Relocating Highway 90 to the CSX right of way remains a vital element in the ultimate recovery of the Gulf Coast. I am hopeful we will find a way to accomplish this objective."

Governor Barbour had no comment on the loss of the money. His spokesperson Pete Smith said they're working with the Congressional delegation on some issues, but he did not specidy what those were. Smith said the governor should have something to say soon on CSX.