new rail crossing

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2016

New rail crossing will improve mounds access

By John Howell
Iowa Pacific Railroad has agreed to allow a rail crossing requested by the City of Batesville to improve public access to the Harmon Mounds site on Highway 35 North.
City engineer Blake Mendrop told the mayor and aldermen during their Tuesday meeting that he had received the proposed occupancy license agreement that morning. “They’re going to let us have the crossing,” Mendrop said, pending review by assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell before final approval by the city.
Conditions required by IP for the crossing include the city providing $6 million in liability insurance to indemnify the railroad in a crossing accident, closing the existing rail crossing further north from the proposed crossing site and payment of a $1,300 annual fee for use of the crossing, according to Mendrop.
Tuesday’s announcement coincides with recent placement of “Mississippi Mound Trail Site” directional signs on both sides of Highway 35 near the pullover constructed by the Mississippi Department of Transportation for placement of an historic marker as part of the statewide Mississippi Mound Trail created by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) in conjunction with MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.
MDAH Chief Archeologist Pam Lieb has told city leaders on several occasions that she expects the Batesville location, because of its proximity to Interstate 55, to become among the most visited of the sites identified in the self-guided tour. Mound Trail signs are expected to be placed on I-55 at the Highway 35 exit in the near future.  The actual marker for the Batesville site is expected to be placed after the unveiling of the first Mound Trail Site marker at the Winterville Mounds near Greenville on May 23.
Mendrop said that the Mississippi Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will announce grant recipients in October. Batesville has applied for a grant of $100,000 to build a walking trail on the Mounds property.
Aldermen on Tuesday voted to place in their minutes an email from Lieb that allows the city to remove smaller trees from the mounds to create better visibility.
“The Boy Scouts have been working on a trail out there; it’s going to be nice,” Mendrop said.
“We need a Weedeater between the pull-off and the railroad tracks bad,” Alderman Teddy Morrow said.
A new sign has been erected to mark the Harmon Mounds, also known as the Batesville Mounds, situated on a 90-acre site between Highway 35 and the Tallahatchie River. It was a village site for Indians of the pre-Columbian era. The site is included on Mississippi’s Mound Trail.
The Panolian photo by John Howell

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