Trains are a fact of life for Coast residents. If you get stuck at a crossing, they can make you late for work, and they are rather noisy. Pascagoula wants to do something about all the noise. We all know the sound of a train whistle. For people like Elizabeth Stallworth, who owns a business right next to the tracks in Pascagoula, it can be a little much. Stallworth says, “It’s very distracting to the customers when they come in. If they do not speak loud, you cannot hear them. When you’re on the phone, you cannot hear what people are saying, and they’re always saying, ‘Is that a train going by?’” The horns are a necessary safety precaution so motorists and pedestrians know they are about to cross paths with a heavy train, but Pascagoula officials say there is another way.
Jackie Turner, a city engineer, says, “The general concept is there’s a certain level of safety now. The horns provide some of that safety. They will consider not blowing their horns if we can show that we’ve improved other safety measures to a level that’s comparable.” It is called a quiet zone, and if the City Council agrees to it, then Pascagoula will be one of a handful of cities in the state that will not have to deal with the train horns. There are a number of improvements needed at Pascagoula's eight railroad crossings in order to make this change possible, such as physical barriers to prevent people from driving around crossing arms. For Stallworth, the improvements are well worth it. She says, “I live about two miles from here and at night you can hear the whistles all the way to my house.”
Do not count on peace and quiet any time soon however. If Pascagoula chooses to make the improvements, the city would have to wait for the Federal Railroad Administration to approve the quiet zone. That process could take a year or two. The Pascagoula City Council plans on taking up the issue at its next work session on April 22nd at 5 p.m.