Tupelo’s long connection with railroads is a constantly changing story, and a chapter will be added this week while BNSF Railroad crews rebuild the tracks at the Jackson Street intersection.
The work is necessary. The railroad is footing the bill. It will cause inconvenience. No one who cooperates with the plan for rerouting traffic need miss any important events for lack of access. But patience and planning will be necessary.
The Jackson Street area surrounding the crossing near Joyner Avenue will be closed for track repair from Monday until Thursday, and despite heavy use of Jackson Street route every day drivers can get through the next few days with relative ease.
As Rod Guajardo reported last week, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad will rebuild the crossing near Joyner Avenue literally from the ground up. The work is part of a $6 billion BNSF maintenance initiative nationwide, and will be similar to work at Crosstown in 2014.
Tupelo’s railroads, despite their horn noise and frequent crossing delays, remain a main line for Tupelo’s prosperity and accessibility to the rest of the nation and beyond. BNSF seeks to maintain and rebuild its 32,000 miles of track, said Joe Faust, BNSF regional public affairs director.
“It’s imperative that we maintain those tracks where we operate,” Faust said. “The program you’re seeing in Tupelo is part of that overall maintenance program.”
BNSF Railway workers replaced tracks, rails and most of the other railroad components of the Crosstown intersection after city leaders requested the work be done following numerous complaints by area residents.
The detours are simple:
• Eastbound traffic on the roadway will be rerouted on to Rankin Boulevard, Blair Street then Clayton Avenue.
• Westbound traffic will be rerouted on Clayton Avenue, Blair Street and Rankin Boulevard.
All businesses and residential properties will remain accessible throughout the duration of the project. Signs will be placed in the impacted areas to designate the detours. No traffic will be allowed through the project area while work is ongoing.
The closures will be in place as voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide on approving $44 million in new bonds for the Tupelo Public School District’s “Safe and Sound” bond issue.
• Residents who vote at Ward 4 Precinct 7 at The Link Centre or Ward 2 Precinct 3 at Wesley United Methodist Church will be able to access those polling places through the detours.
There’s probably no such thing as a perfect railroad intersection with a busy city street, but good maintenance makes their necessity safer and less jarring. If all goes as planned, the work will be finished by the weekend.