Gulfport Residents Express Concerns Over Railroad Crossings

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Several people from wards one and two met with CSX representatives to talk about railroad crossings in their neighborhoods.

"There's a lot of crossings in Mississippi, way too many," said Cliff Stayton with CSX Railroad.

The city of Gulfport has 33 railroad crossings. But if some residents have their way, that number will change.

"There's no point in having one every single street. It's not safe," said Michelle Kidd.

The debate over Gulfport's railroad crossings is nothing new. But which ones to close, always creates controversy.

"I hear a lot of people complaining about the railroad but the railroad has always been here," said one Soria City resident.

CSX made a list of crossings up for consideration. They include Gulf Street, Pratt Avenue, 18th Avenue, 29th Avenue. 31st and 32nd and 40th Avenues, as well as Woodward, Ruth and Hardy Avenue.

The company says its working to reduce redundancy across the country. It's a change they say will ultimately save taxpayer money and save lives.

"The last thing I see sitting up there in that locomotive is someone looking at me before impact and that stays with me the rest of my life," said Bob Martin with CSX.

Ward two councilwoman organized the workshop to simply discuss the possible closures. And while some residents are in favor of closures, others say it will only hurt their neighborhoods.

"I hurts my heart when I hear y'all talk about closing this when our churches are out there," said the Soria City resident.

People who live on Pratt Avenue say closing their crossing will be like closing their community.

At this point, CSX is only making suggestions for closures.

Until there are public hearings and council gives its final approval, the only changes that will take place are the additions of lights, gates and bells to ALL crossings. Something that will happen whether they are closed or not.

We should note again that this was just a workshop and no decisions were made. However, councilmembers Libby Roland and Gary Holliman will work together to schedule a public hearing on the matter.