Board advertising for materials to complete emergency access road

Published 10:32 am Friday, May 22, 2015

Paving could soon begin on an emergency access road from Klein to Depot Street leading to the closure of the Speed Street railroad crossing.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday authorized City Clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids for asphalt and fencing for the emergency road that is being built by city public works crews along the east side of the switchyard from Klein Street to Depot Street.

“We’re almost at the point where we can complete that road,” City Attorney Nancy Thomas said. “The part of the road that will be asphalt is the part coming down the hill from Klein Street and the hill going to Depot (Street), and then there will be a fence along the way.”

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Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said grading for the road is almost complete, adding completion was on hold until a fence, which was required by Kansas City Southern Railroad is up. Once the road is completed, the railroad will close the Speed Street crossing.

“This has been a long time coming,” Mayor George Flaggs said.

The road is part of a compromise approved in April 2014 between the city and the railroad, and will serve as an emergency outlet for people on the west side of Pearl Street across the tracks, allowing KCS to close the Speed Street crossing north of the street’s intersection with Pearl Street. Closing the crossing will create a “quiet zone” along Pearl Street, where several bed-and-breakfasts are located.

City officials have discussed closing the Speed Street crossing since 2003. It has been deemed a safety hazard by the city, because emergency vehicles have problems negotiating the crossing to get to calls on the west side.

The residents on both sides of the tracks gave their opinions on the crossing in an October 2014 public hearing on the board’s plans to close it. The board took the closing under advisement, and city officials began meeting with KCS representatives to discuss a solution.

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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