New Road east of train station being reviewed

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

City officials are considering a project to build a road between Depot and Klein streets behind the Kansas City Southern switch yard off Levee Street as an alternative to using the Speed Street railroad crossing to reach Pearl Street on the west side of the tracks.
North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said Tuesday the proposed road is on the east side of the KCS switching station. The station is on the east side of the yard.
Mayfield was asked by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to meet with city and railroad officials about closing the Speed Street crossing and finding an alternate route for residents living on the west side of the tracks on Pearl Street. He did not have a schedule when the project would be done.
“We still have a ways to go,” he said. “This plan will require a public hearing. We also have to look at the ownership of a piece of land on Klein Street (the north corner of Klein and Levee).”
Mayfield did not have a date for a hearing.
Residents in the area expressed their concerns about the Speed Street at a September public hearing held by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The residents’ main concern was noise at night from passing trains, which must sound their horns as they approach the crossing — an issue for residents on both sides of the crossing and guests at the bed and breakfasts in the area.
Closing the crossing is the only way to eliminate the noise, which means finding another route for residents and members of Calvary M.B. Church on Klein Street to get to the west side of the tracks.
Until Tuesday, Mayfield said, the only proposed route was building a road from the railroad trestle on Fairgrounds Street north to Depot — a project estimated to cost about $500,000.
He said the proposed new route suggested by Kansas City Southern is shorter “and we can do it in house for 1/10th of what it would cost us for the other plan.” He added KCS officials have indicated they will give the city rights of way to build on railroad property.
Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said the road would be built along the base of the hill that begins at Pearl Street and slopes down to the switch yard.
“It will be a two-way road,” he said. “Kansas City Southern has some old track (behind the switching station) that is not being used, and they’ll have to pull that up so we can work in there. It’s a good solution.”
Mayfield said the road will provide two ways for people to access the Pearl and Klein streets, adding they can reach the streets from Depot Street or the new road.
“They won’t cross the tracks at all, and they have a safe route in an out,” he said. “I believe this will work.”

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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