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City says safety work ready to start in push to quiet trains

April 20, 2019

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Northeast Mississippi’s largest city is trying to revive an effort to quiet its many trains.

Tupelo’s effort to upgrade 19 rail crossings have been stalled, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported. Completing safety upgrades including crossing arms would allow the city to secure a quiet zone, so BNSF Railway trains wouldn’t have to sound horns as they approach crossings.

The city won a Mississippi Department of Transportation Grant in 2016, but has sought extensions on spending the money. Mayor Jason Shelton now says the city will use the money to upgrade four crossings, seeking an extension through June 2020.

Shelton prioritized a quiet zone in his first term, and his administration produced a three-phase plan with an estimated $5.5 million price tag to make the necessary improvements. Now approaching the halfway point of his second term, no rail improvements have been made and cost estimates are now several years old.

Republican U.S. Sen Roger Wicker, a Tupelo resident, said that he wants to help the city seek funds during a Thursday news conference at the “crosstown” crossing, where a railroad line diagonally cuts across the busy intersection of Main and Gloster streets. Being stopped by a train there is a ritual of life in Tupelo.

“Rail is vital to this community. The railroad put Tupelo on the map,” Wicker said. “And yet it brings problems.”

All they need is approval from BNSF to start on the four crossings, city officials say. The railroad’s Michael Garriga predicts approval “very soon.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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