B&B owners back closing of Garden District crossing|[4/19/05]
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Owners of the bed and breakfast homes in the city’s Garden District said they support a state plan that would close a railroad crossing, eliminating the need for trains to sound their horns there.
The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard from three property owners Monday during a public hearing requested by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
The state has asked for closing of the rail crossing at Klein and Pearl streets, citing improved safety.
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Property owners there say it will also improve the quality of life for residents and guests at local tour homes.
“We applaud this program,” said Cliff Whitney, 601 Klein St., president of the Vicksburg Bed and Breakfast Association. “This has been an issue for many years for the people who operate the bed and breakfasts,” he said.
Trains are required by federal rules to blow air horns when approaching any vehicle or pedestrian track crossing. Fewer crossings mean fewer blasts from train horns that have gotten louder and more frequent over the past decade.
“It shakes the foundation of the house,” said Carolyn Stephenson who, along with her husband, owns Annabelle, 501 Speed St.
“The noise is just unbearable,” she said.
Other crossings in that area are at Oak Street and at Speed Street, but no plans have been announced to close either of those crossings. There are residential areas west of the tracks, too.
City officials said plans will eventually include extending the east side of Pearl Street back to Oak Street, following the former path of the railroad line.
Steven Edwards of the MDOT rails division, said a $25,000 state grant will also be made available to extend the roadway.
Five years ago, discussions centered on the creation of a railroad authority and routing through trains outside the city limits, but that idea failed when Warren County supervisors would not back it.
Since, discussions between the city and Kansas City Southern Railway, the owner of the tracks through Vicksburg, have focused on closing as many crossings as possible.
However, eliminating the crossing also limits access to areas west of the railroad tracks, and access by emergency and other vehicles.
In other matters the city board: