Gates, lights going up at deadly RR crossing in east Miss.

Published 11:07 pm Saturday, December 30, 2006

A railroad crossing at the Jones-Forrest county line, where two deaths occurred over a month’s time this year, is being upgraded with automated gates and lights.

Until now, the Eastabutchie location has been marked only by a railroad crossing sign.

Officials with Norfolk Southern Railroad say work crews will try to complete the job soon after New Year’s Day.

“The workers will be back on the site on Jan. 3,” said railroad inspector Daniel Johnson. “We were hoping the job could be finished before Christmas, but the crew was involved in a traffic accident and that set them back some. Once they get back after the first of the year, it will take about 14 to 20 days to get everything up and going.”

Norfolk crews have poured concrete to anchor the automated crossing gates and lights. Also present are flags and flowers placed by families of those killed and injured in train-vehicle collisions.

Gina Blackburn hopes to never hear the awful crunching noise made when a vehicle is slammed by a train.

“Now that they are doing some work on the crossing, I wish they’d hurry up and get through with it,” said Blackburn from her view across U.S. 11 South inside Mak’s Convenience Store. “I’m ready for the crossing guards to be put up.”

On Oct. 28, Thomas Adam Jones Jr., 17, of Purvis, died after his truck was struck by a northbound AmTrak passenger train.

On Sept. 27, Charles Andrew Sumrall, 20, of Eastabutchie, was killed when his car collided with a southbound Amtrak passenger train. Authorities said Sumrall’s car was pushed about a quarter mile down the tracks before the train could stop.