Biloxi closes Main Street railroad crossing to trucks, buses

Published 8:03 pm Saturday, March 11, 2017

(AP) — The city closed the Main Street railroad crossing to buses and larger trucks Friday in response to the mayor’s order to prevent accidents there and at other “problematic” areas.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich ordered the closure Friday, telling the public works traffic division to make the signs and erect them at the Main Street crossing by Friday afternoon, city spokesman Vincent Creel said.

Two signs were posted on the south side of the tracks and one was placed on the north side. Creel said other signs will be placed at some other crossings next week.

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Gilich ordered the closure — which doesn’t affect cars and pickups — after police and firefighters stopped a commercial bus from trying to cross the Main Street railroad tracks, the site where four people died and eight were critically injured Tuesday in a train-charter bus crash.

“The mayor decided to take action in problematic areas after another bus tried to cross the Main Street tracks,” Creel said.

The signs will say no buses and no trucks are allowed to cross railroad tracks with low-ground clearance.

A steep incline on the north side of the Main Street tracks is a critical issue in a National Transportation Safety Board investigation of Tuesday’s crash involving a charter bus broadsided by a CSX Railroad freight train.

A total of 50 people — senior citizens on a trip from Bastrop, Texas — were on the charter bus that crashed. Forty-four people were taken to five area hospitals for emergency treatment or observation.

A candlelight vigil has been planned for Sunday night in Biloxi to remember the victims of the crash.

“One thing thing I’ve been told is the first responders’ stomachs were turning (Friday) because the bus was seconds from getting on the crossing,” Creel said.

Counselors were made available to firefighters Friday for those who felt the need to talk with someone about Tuesday’s crash, he said. “For the first of the first responders to reach the crash, it was especially rough.”

Three lawsuits have been filed since the crash and others are likely. One is on behalf of the son of Peggy Hoffman, 73, killed with her husband, Kenneth, 82. Another is by Darwyn and Marie Hanna, who were seriously injured. Also killed were Clinton Havarn, 79, and Deborah Orr, 62. All four are from the Bastrop/Austin, Texas, area.