Tupelo city leaders call recent Crosstown railroad work ‘Band-Aid’

Tupelo stockBy Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Vehicles traveling along the BNSF railroad at Crosstown have a less bumpy ride than a week ago, but city leaders call recent work at the problem intersection a temporary Band-Aid fix.

Earlier this week, a work crew with the railroad met with city of Tupelo employees about the problem area, a place that has caused grief to motorists for more than a year now.

When contacted last week, Joe Faust, BNSF director of public affairs for eight states including Mississippi, said he wasn’t aware of the problem but would look into the railroad repairing infrastructure under its responsibility.

Recently, someone driving along the tracks blew out a tire and filed a damage report with the Tupelo Police Department.
Rail and city workers met on Monday to evaluate conditions at the busy city intersection that overlaps with railroads.

“The main thing is we inspected it and did work that makes the crossing satisfactory for the leadership of the community,” Faust said Friday afternoon.

Not so fast with assessment, city leaders also said Friday. Darrell Smith, Tupelo chief operations officer, said the city put asphalt on some of the bumpy areas, but the actual rails remained too low for vehicles to travel across at a reasonable speed.

“All they did was put a Band-Aid on it,” Smith said. “They’re not going to fix it until the track is raised at least two to three inches.”

Also Friday, Mayor Jason Shelton toured BNSF facilities in Memphis with intentions to build relationships with railroad officials as the city considers whether to establish “quiet zones” along city railroad crossings where trains do not blow horns.

Having spent most of the week out of town at the Mississippi Municipal League annual conference, Shelton said he had not reviewed the work at the railroad track on Main Street.

Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington, a critic of the railroad for not repairing the area along the tracks sooner, said city officials must continue to communicate with railroad authorities about a long-term fix.

“One good rain with heavy traffic and it’ll be the same way,” Whittington said.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com