Wesson rail crossing still getting attention

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2002

WESSON — Town officials may be one step closer to a finaldecision on whether they will work to close one of the town’s sixrailroad crossings to protect the remaining crossings.

For more than 20 minutes during Tuesday’ meeting, board membersand concerned citizens talked about what the best option was forthe town and the crossings. At least two of the five aldermen saythe people in their wards would not be opposed to closing theSeventh Street crossing on the north end of town if it would createa safer situation at other crossings.

“I’ve voted against it before, but I’ve thought about it andI’ve talked with my constituents,” said Ward Three Alderman LuraGreer. “If they (railroad officials) will not put crossing guardsand lights up, I will support the closing of that crossing.”

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Before board members take a vote on the proposal, Ward OneAlderman Robert Derrick asked that Mayor Bill Tigner go to railroadofficials one more time requesting lights and crossing guards atthe Seventh Street and Main Street crossings.

“I think we need to make a request. . . and have it documentedif they turn us down,” Derrick said.

Tigner said he expected a refusal from railroad officials.

Derrick added that closing the Seventh Street crossing in orderto have the Main Street crossing protected with lights and crossingguards should be a “last resort.”

“The people in my ward said if we tried every way we could toget lights and guards there, they would not be opposed to closingit,” he commented.

Ward Four Alderman Hollis Cowen Jr. continued to point out toother town officials that it was not their responsibility to makethe crossing safe.

“It’s still a train problem. It’s the train’s responsibility toprotect those crossings,” he said.

Derrick countered Cowen’s remark by saying that the board couldnot just “stand by and see a situation where people could getkilled.”

Tigner pointed out that the town’s two unprotected crossingswere on the low end of the priority list for railroadofficials.

“The railroad probably has about 1,000 more dangerous crossings,and we have the opportunity to make some safer,” he added. “I’vetalked with about 100 people who don’t understand why we as a boardwill not take action.”

He also pointed out how Wesson has six railroad crossings whilethe town has only a population of about 1,700. Brookhaven has apopulation of almost 10,000 people and just eight crossings.

Several members of the audience said they wanted to have therailroad crossings protected soon, before someone was killed at oneof them.

“What we’re talking about is a safety factor for our children,”Wesson resident Ray Ishee commented.

Many other residents commented, saying they did not want thetrain to hit a bus load of children at an unprotected crossing.

Tigner ended the discussion by promising to take the proposal ofputting lights and crossing guards on Seventh Street and MainStreet to railroad officials before the next board meeting.