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Council leaves Arundel Road railroad crossing open

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 22, 2001
The Meridian City Council decided Tuesday night that the Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing at Arundel Road will remain open, bringing an end to a months-long debate.
Councilmen voted 5-0 to table the issue, which means it likely is dead. Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith, who made the motion to kill the issue, said, "It's over. I do not intend to bring it up again."
Smith said that closing the crossing would mean a slower response time in emergency situations and an inconvenience to residents and businesses.
With trains regularly blocking the 49th Avenue crossing, blocking or closing the Arundel Road crossing would force people living and working in that area to use the interstate. Smith said that could add at least five minutes to emergency response time.
Smith said a friend reported both rail crossings were blocked by a train from 4:45 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. on Saturday.
The council approved an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad in February to close the crossing in early March.
Several business owners and residents opposed the closing. Businessmen said closing the crossing would cost them money, slowing down their response time in delivering services.
The city rescinded their order in March to close the crossing; as of mid-May, the issue was at a stalemate. The city council left the decision up to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. MDOT officials said they wouldn't make a decision until the city makes one.
Smith said Tuesday night that MDOT could close the crossing. But he said he doesn't think MDOT will.
Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said Tuesday afternoon that MDOT will discuss the railroad crossing issue after the city makes a decision.
With an abundance of railroad crossings in the state, he said, a number of them need to be closed because train traffic is increasing. But he said city leaders are in the best position to decide the fate of the Arundel Road crossing.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.
On Tuesday, the Meridian City Council also:
Heard a report from Mayor John Robert Smith that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Pat Harrison Waterway District officials are prepared to refund an overpayment on a Sowashee Creek project. The $409,792 check is scheduled to be cut Friday. Smith said the money will be applied to the city's debt service;
Set a hearing for Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m., to consider an appeal by the Mississippi Manufactured Housing Authority regarding the Planning Commission's decision on upgrades to mobile homes inside the city limits;
Authorized city administrators to meet with Meridian Public School District officials to discuss traffic flow changes at Meridian High School; and
Declared city lots at 1612 and 1614 32nd Ave. surplus property and donated them to Lauderdale County Habitat for Humanity.