TANGIPAHOA, La. - The old railroad crossing at Capace Road near Independence may seem settled into its new guarded and ground-up state, but people who fought this closure, and two others in Tangipahoa Parish, say their fight isn't over.
"At the state level, you get some verdicts sometimes that are not just," said Melvin McElwee. "They are just for those that are involved, but not just for all. And so, therefore in this situation, we felt we shouldn’t just give up."
Last month, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development closed Capace Road, Reverend J. White Road, also near Independence, and Village of Tangipahoa Babb Street crossings, citing a lack of safety. The parish council lost a challenge of the closures in state court, where it claimed the agency moved too fast and didn't consider the inconveniences on the community.
Now the area NAACP, along with a citizens group, want to take the case to the federal level.
"There's some possible civil rights violations in the way the monies are being spent by DOTD in allocating which crossings get closures and which stay open," McElwee said.
The community also claims some 500 home values have decreased since the closures and someone should have to pay for that consequence.
Two days ago, the parish council approved a resolution supporting the continued fight against these closures. They say the people who are affected deserve it.
"It's a handicapping condition for us and it’s something that we're going to continue to fight until the very end," Councilman Louis Joseph said.
The DOTD says it stands by the state judge's ruling that it followed the appropriate protocols and legally closed the unsafe crossings. But the community says it's standing by its right to fairness.
The groups seeking federal action regarding the crossings hope to either file a lawsuit or a complaint with the Department of Justice by the end of next month.
The DOTD says it's talking with officials in Kentwood about another possible railroad closure at Avenue F.