Shreveport City Council meeting gets heated over train horn problems

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover speaks on downtown train horn issues
Mayor Cedric Glover in favor of closing portion of Lake Street in downtown Shreveport
Mayor Cedric Glover in favor of closing portion of Lake Street in downtown Shreveport
City Council meeting gets heated on possible Lake Street closure
City Council meeting gets heated on possible Lake Street closure
Some business owners are against possible closure of Lake Street
Some business owners are against possible closure of Lake Street

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Shreveport City Council is considering closing a portion of Lake Street. The portion of roadway that's being discussed runs alongside Sci-Port and the hotel formally known as the Holiday Inn. According to Shreveport Interim City Engineer Robert Westerman, the reason for the closure is that surrounding businesses say the train blowing its horn is a nuisance.

According to Mayor Glover, the owners of the downtown Shreveport hotel requested a study to be done to address the train horn problems. In the study, the city found that 14 trains cross the intersection per day and are required by federal law to honk their horns several times. In order to make that train crossing a "blow free" zone, it would cost about $700,000 to meet safety requirements. It would also take up to three years to transform it into that type of zone, says Westerman.

Westerman says the study found 1,200 cars pass through Lake Street in one direction and 1,300 cars in another direction daily, but that doesn't account for if those cars are passing through the exact portion that will be closed.

Under the proposed plan, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) would pay a portion of the cost, the Downtown Hotel has agreed to pay a portion and the city might have to pay about a third of it, Westerman explained.

A leader from the Downtown Shreveport Hotel says part of the reason they lost their Holiday Inn franchise is because so many people complained about the issue of horn noise. They say in 6-12 weeks, the brand will come back but they might lose it again because of the constant train complaints.

Several business owners on Lake Street have also stepped forward, including Bill Pogue, to protest closing that portion of the street. Pogue and his attorney explained they don't want the street blocked temporarily at all. They claim they picked their properties knowing the train was there and feel it will hurt their businesses. Pogue says if they pass this resolution, they are favoring the Downtown Hotel over all of the other investors and business owners. Pogue is however, in favor of crossing arms but against closing the street.

The General Manager of the Shreveport Times, Alan English, says he opposes closing the street as well. English says the city council should look into a solution that benefits all businesses, not just one. English told council members that depending on this decision, the council may tie his hands to possibility leave downtown. He also told the council that Lake Street leading to Clyde Fant is huge to their new printing press. English explained that he may not have bought that property a few years ago knowing that portion of Lake Street would be closed in a few years.

Councilman Joe Shyne asked Mayor Glover how he feels about the issue since the administration brought the legislation to the council.

"For anyone who doesn't believe this isn't a problem, they aren't dealing with reality" replied Glover. "I can tell you personally, the train and the horn associated with it, is the main issue with this hotel," he explained, adding it's evident in the online reviews about the hotel. "I don't have a vote, just a voice. There is a problem and we need to address it" says Glover. "We are here today to problem solve. Do we have great excitement about the development along Lake Street? Absolutely, but there are no easy solutions here, we have to decide what we can ultimately do to fix the problem."

Glover said he doesn't think the business owners' investment, who are in opposition of the road closure, would be valuable if the Downtown Shreveport Hotel declines because it would go out of business.

English says the stakeholders should have been a part of the discussion from the beginning. But Glover says they are a part of the conversations now during the public forum.

The issue to close Lake Street has been postponed for two weeks by the Shreveport City Council.

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