COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Southside residents packed the Townsend Community Center to find out more about the possible closing of 6 Kansas City Southern railroad crossings.
“12 railroad crossing have been negotiated to close 6 and to leave 6 open. The potential streets being closed are 2nd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 6th and 17th. It’s only a negotiation. Nothing’s been signed. Nothing is final. We will be going back to the table with MDOT, the mayor and the council. We will also have to vote on the situation and make sure everything’s transparent. I am very concerned because I travel on them everyday. The conditions of the railroads are very bad. It’s been one of my pet peeves.” said Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor.
Officials also discussed the alternate routes for travelers. Several residents voiced their concerns about the possible change. Sid Caradine thinks the railroad crossings should remain open, but wants the noise to subside.
“I have lost a little bit of my hearing. I was walking down a couple of years ago and that train whistle went off and I think it hurt my ears to the point that I’m wearing hearing aids now so, you know, it’s a definite noise environment thing,” said Caradine.
Other residents believe it’s not just the noise that’s a big problem.
“When you go over it, it makes a big sound like ‘thump thump thump.’ I need a wheel barrel axle on my car right now from that,” said Columbus southside resident Darrion Walls.
Walls also wants the railroads to stay open, but only if officials repair the crossings and improve safety.
“They do need lights and good warning. Like when a train comes, the lights need to pop on like on the other side of town. When the red lights come on or the crossing guard drops down,” said Walls.
Law enforcement assured the public that closing the crossings won’t affect them from responding to an emergency.
“We normally run main thoroughfares anyway as it relates to the southside. We have to figure out how to get across and we’ve been quite successful over the years in terms of doing that so whether they close or not, we’re going to be like the United States postal service, we’re going to deliver a service,” said McQueen.
If they do in fact close the railroad crossings, city officials will decide how that money will be allocated. Leaders will hold a public hearing Thursday at 5pm at the Columbus Municipal Complex. Residents will be able to ask city officials and the railroad company any questions and get information on the proposed changes and why.