- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

MAGNOLIA, Miss. (AP) - Pike County supervisors have authorized their attorney to “do whatever he’s got to do” to pressure CN Railroad to provide access for a family whose home is located between an often-blocked rail crossing and a bridge under construction.

The Enterprise-Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1kyR1j5) supervisors said that could mean lodging a formal complaint, seeking an injunction or filing a lawsuit against the railroad.

LaShawnder Morgan appeared before supervisors Friday, imploring them for help again in getting cooperation from CN.

Morgan and her family live on Adams Road between a Town Creek bridge that has been out since December 2012 and a railroad crossing often blocked by rail cars. She said she sometimes has to wait for hours to get to or from her house. She had a school bus driver with her at the meeting who likewise has to wait regularly for trains to move.

“It’s just ridiculous how many times I’ve called (railroad officials) and I’ve had to wait,” Morgan said.

Railroad officials tell her to pressure supervisors to finish the bridge, but Morgan said, “The bridge cannot be moved and the train can.”

County engineer Chad Toles said the bridge project is nearly complete but has been delayed by rainy weather. The contractor is expected to move in soon to finish applying dirt for the approaches.

County administrator Andrew Alford said he invited an area railroad official to Friday’s meeting. “He said they’re not going to attend. He referred me to their public relations,” Alford said.

Board president Chuck Lambert said even when the bridge is complete, people east of the crossing will have to wait long periods to get to Highway 51 because of rail cars. Adams Road joins Highway 51 and Old Industrial Road south of McComb, and the railroad dissects it.

Lambert suggested seeking an injunction or judge’s ruling ordering CN not to block the crossing.

Supervisor Faye Hodges said the Federal Railroad Administration has a complaint form on its website and suggested lodging a complaint there.

Supervisor Gary Honea called for stronger action, asking Dowdy to “do whatever he’s got to do” to get cooperation from CN.

“Tell them we’re going to file a federal lawsuit if they don’t do something,” Honea said. “Just a little courtesy would be greatly appreciated by the railroad.”

Dowdy noted CN has offered to help pay for the bridge replacement, but only on condition supervisors abandon the railroad crossing, hence closing it.

“I think they’re trying their best to get y’all to agree to abandon that road crossing,” he said.

“You can tell them we’re not doing that,” Lambert said. “If they want to pay for an overhead bridge, that’s fine.”

Contacted after the meeting, CN spokesman Patrick Waldron of Chicago said the railroad indeed would like to close the crossing. As for the Morgans’ plight, he said, “I would trust that we attempt to minimize any blocked crossings in any locations, including that in Pike County.”

Waldron reiterated comments he made following a similar board meeting in November.

“During the course of just serving businesses in Mississippi, there are going to be trains and rail cars that come over and sometimes stop at that crossing,” he said then. “That’s just the nature of railroad operations and what we have to do to serve rail customers. … The ultimate solution is to repair the bridge.”

He said CN provided the Morgans with phone numbers to be used in case of an emergency.


Information from: Enterprise-Journal, https://www.enterprise-journal.com

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