City eyes six crossings for closure

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, saying that it’s a safety issue and he’s personally known three people who have died in car-train collisions, asked the Biloxi City Council to call a public hearing to discuss closing as many of six of the 29 rail crossings along the 8.5 miles of CSX railway in Biloxi.

The city also today identified six crossings that had been recommended for closing in an October 2014 study: Nixon Street, Holley Street, Iroquois Street, Keller Avenue, Dorries Street and Querens Avenue. The City Council called for a public hearing to follow its Tuesday, March 21, 1:30 p.m. meeting.

“I personally have known three people who have died in car-train collisions,” Gilich said. “I know of milk spilled on the tracks, shrimp spilled on the tracks and, most recently, Pepsi Cola spilled on the tracks. It’s a safety issue.”

Gilich also noted a number of other factors in addition to safety are involved:  The city wants to construct two new four-lane-boulevard-style crossings, one in West Biloxi at an extension of Popp’s Ferry Road from Pass Road to U.S. 90, and another in east Biloxi, by making Pine Street a four-lane boulevard and extending it to connect to Back Bay Boulevard and creating a long-discussed east Biloxi traffic loop that would involve Pine Street, Back Bay Boulevard, Caillavet Street and U.S. 90.

The mayor also pointed out that the proposed Amtrak service on the CSX rail line in Biloxi would benefit from safer railways in Biloxi.

In fact, CSX has told the city that its 29 crossings already represent a safety hazard and three crossings would have to close for each of the two new ones proposed.

Of the 29 rail crossings in Biloxi, 21 are bunched in east Biloxi, in a 2.6-mile strip of rail between White Avenue and Oak Street. According to CSX, there is an abnormally higher incidence of accidents at city crossings than the Southeastern average. Recently, a soft drink delivery truck was struck by a freight train in Downtown Biloxi after getting stuck on the tracks.
See all crossings and proposed consolidations
The methodology: How the six were chosen
See the 13-page analysis from 2014
See photos from today’s City Council meeting