Laurel’s worst railway level crossing in dire need of repair

You must login to view this post.

'; } ?>

After many months of the rutted-out, waddled-out, potholed westbound lanes of Chantilly Street underneath the I-59 overpass — following complaints to the City of Laurel — MDOT, after initial slipshod patching failed, finally came in June 15 and June 18 and milled the old asphalt and repaved both lanes to smoothly accommodate the dense traffic of 18-wheelers and commuters entering the City of Laurel and the on ramp onto I-59 South and exiting the southbound off ramp onto Chantilly east.

With the writer daily traveling Chantilly, that repair makes the difference between creeping through the potholes and ruts versus sustaining the 35 mph speed limit underneath the bridge.  Thanks to MDOT!

Similarly, for years, Highway 11 South in the vicinity of Hardee’s and what is now Deep Well Energy Service — where the Pendorff Community sign is posted slightly south of the railway level crossing entering Pendorff — the crossing is in extreme disrepair.

On Thursday, June 21, after going to and from Chancellor’s feed store in Ellisville, the writer crossed the railway level crossing entering and exiting Pendorff. The crossing is extremely rough, especially for motorists who are not familiar with it. Unknowingly, many motorists drive the posted 40 mph speed limit crossing the rough railway exposing their suspension system to damage.

After unloading the feed — knowing the problem for years — in the deluge between 1-2 p.m. Thursday, the writer drove to Deep Well Energy Service parking lot and watched countless vehicles splash through the depressed, collapsed area of the railway in water standing where the railway level is NOT at grade with the road.

The railway level should be the same as the level of the highway — multiple feet on both sides from the center of the railway. Highway 11 is highly trafficked with all types of vehicles — from the heaviest to the lightest, as seen in the attachments.

The spur line crossing Highway 11 branches off Norfolk Southern north- and south-bound railway south of Doncurt Road. The spur line serves Sanderson Farms’ feed mill, Dunn Asphalt Plant, Vulcan Limestone Yard and other industrial entities in Laurel Airbase Industrial Park.

At the same time, concrete trucks, 18-wheelers loaded with everything from scrap iron to substation transformers, welding supply trucks, dump trucks, asphalt trucks, chicken and feed trucks, delivery and freight trucks with all types of heavy loads on wheels, plus hundreds of motorists in privately owned vehicles cross the degraded intersection on Highway 11 which is the worst junction in Laurel.

Looking at the City’s 10 operative crossings — 24th Street, 18th Street, 15th Street, Kingston Street, Central Avenue, Jefferson Street, Hartford Street, Oak Park Boulevard, Doncurt and Highway 11 at Pendorff — the Pendorff crossing is the busiest, which exacerbates the problem.

As the writer observed during the deluge Thursday, motorists who are familiar with the problem slowed almost to a halt, carefully crossing the railway in water. Even on clear days, when water is not present, POVs slow down and cross or veer to the edge of the road to avoid most of the degraded intersection to minimize suspension damage.

Considering all of the heavy equipment, industrial freight, vast mega tons of rocks, sand, gravel, feed and other materials — plus the density of POV motorists traveling Highway 11 at the railway crossing — Mississippi Department of Transportation, Laurel Airbase Industrial Park Authority, Jones County and the City of Laurel NEED TO FIX THE PROBLEM.  “…THE FUNCTION IS AT THE JUNCTION!”

Years back, dealing with beaver dams and the drainage problems in that area, the writer walked the spur line from Doncurt Road to Highway 11 South. That spur line is a dinosaur from when Highway 11 was the main artery from Laurel to Hattiesburg.  Then, spur lines were widespread and well-maintained in and about Laurel.  Several old spur lines now are in desuetude, such as those at Bruce Avenue-24th Street, Compress-18th Street, Lindsey Avenue-15th Street, Front Street-11th Street and Front Street-Kingston Street.

In that the spur line is Industrial Boulevard  and it warrants highway “industrial construction requirements.” Heavy-duty rubber products, track panels, crossties, tie plates, ballast and asphalt for industrial application are specified for the assorted traffic crossing the junction.

However, being familiar with the Pendorff intersection, Thursday, during that torrential rain, the writer is convinced, and, perhaps many other motorists are, too, that the old crossing needs to be demolished and replaced with an INDUSTRIAL crossing constructed by an experienced contractor with certified personnel and the equipment needed to rectify the problem.

Ideally, during MDOT’s next asphalt and road construction project on Highway 11 involving the railway-highway intersection, upgrading the crossing to “INDUSTRIAL” specifications is perforce. Correcting the rough, bumpy ride — that is extremely hard on passenger vehicles and pickups — is incumbent upon Laurel Airbase Industrial Park Authority, City of Laurel, Jones County and MDOT. Glaringly, this problem has existed for years.

Harvey Warren lives in Laurel.

Write a Reply or Comment