Africatown Community Meeting Report – Railroad Expansion in Africatown

A crowded room of Africatown residents, natives and supporters showed up to be informed about the Port of Mobile’s plans to expand their railroad and tank car operations into The Africatown Community. This meeting was the first in a series of 3 meetings designed to communicate, educate & elevate the Africatown residents about the Port of Mobile’s proposal to expand their railroad tracks in the community. The first meeting was held to inform residents about the railroad expansion. Later this month (date TBD), the second meeting will be held to hear the public’s response to the railroad expansion plans. On February 29th the third meeting will be held. This meeting will be conducted by Government people from Washington, D.C. to hear, in person, the public’s reaction to the proposed railroad expansion. They have seen the Award Winning Documentary, they have listened to small groups that have traveled to The White House to talk about industrial intrusion into the Africatown Community, now they want to hear what the majority of Africatown residents have to say about pollution, noise and anything else about living near more than 40 industrial sites.
The document below contains some slides shown at the community meeting. Please open the document as I explain what is shown by each slide.

Aerial Imagery Chicksawa Lead Line
Project begin and project end:
The red lines denote the path of the nearly 2 miles of new railroad tracks into the community. The picture shows that although the name of the project is called The Chickasaw Lead Line, the entire project in located in Africatown. The project begins at The Three Mile Creek and winds around the Kimberly Clark Plant and ends north of Jakes Lane at a vacant lot in Hog Bayou, known as site 4, where the Oil Industry wanted to build 50 Super Storage Tanks for Tar Sands Oil in Africatown 10 years ago. The section near the Three Mile Creek will be beside one of our historic sites along The Africatown Blueway Water Trail known as The Original Place of Baptism where The Clotilda enslaved Africans first baptized themselves.

Magazine Point Development Opportunities
Magazine Point Development Opportunities: 
The second drawing has a green arrow at the bottom part of the right side of that drawing. That arrow shows how the path of the new railroad track will interface with the historic homes along Chin Street in Magazine Point. Notice how the old railroad track is just to the right of the proposed new tracks thus making this newer track closer to residential homes.

Distance From Occupied Home
Distance of Railroad Tracks from Historic Residential Homes – South Side:
The aerial photo on page 3 shows that the current track near Chin Street is only 160 feet from the McAlpine home. The proposed new tracks will be closer than 160 ft because it will be to the left of the old tracks

Distance From Africatown Historic School Campus
Distance of Railroad Tracks from Africatown’s Historic School Campus:
The photo on page 4 shows that the current railroad tracks are only 310 ft from the school’s campus. The proposed new tracks will be even closer than 310 ft because it will be located south of the existing tracks.

Distance of Railroad Tracks from Historic Residential Homes
Distance of Railroad Tracks from Historic Residential Homes – North Side: 
The photo on page 5 shows that the current track on the north side is only 1,132 ft from historic homes on Jakes Ln. The proposed new tracks will be even closer than that because it will be south of the existing track. Mobile’s new zoning code requires all hazardous materials stored in above ground storage tanks to be at least 1,500 ft from the nearest residential area. Although a Tank Car is not an “official” storage tank, it is a storage unit that might at times contain hazardous materials.

Africatown Planning Area
The entire Africatown Planning Area:
The area shown in green on page 6 represents all of Africatown. The north boundary (top) is the city of Chickasaw. The eastern boundary (right) is The Mobile River. The western boundary (left) is the city of Prichard. The southern boundary (bottom) is the 3 mile creek. The Africatown Community used to have 12 neighborhoods, now there are 6. They are Plateau, Magazine Point, Happy Hills, Kelly Hills, Lewis Quarters and Hog Bayou.

Africatown Historic District
Africatown’s Historic District:
Africatown’s Historic District consists of most of The Plateau and Magazine Point Neighborhoods. Those are the only Africatown neighborhoods placed on The National Historic Register in 2012.

Africatown Planning Area and Historic District
An illustration of how Africatown’s Historic District fits into the entire Africatown Area. The other Africatown residential areas, Happy Hills, Kelly Hills & Lewis Quarters, are located within the “Toe Area” of the Africatown “Booth”. Africatown’s Hog Bayou neighborhood is industrial and consumes the remainder of Africatown.

Africatown Safety Zone
Africatown’s Safety Zone:
C.H.E.S.S. (Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe & Sustainable Community) and MEJAC (Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition), Africatown’s 2 Environmental Organization, along with the help of Councilman William Carroll, were able to get a safety zone area approved that added more protection to Africatown’s Historic District and extended protection to The Happy Hills, Kelly Hills and Lewis Quarters neighborhoods.

Africatown’s Industrial Land Use
Africatown’s Industrial Land Use Illustrated: 
The gold triangles represent more than 40 industrial land use sites within Africatown. Notice that currently there are no triangles located within the Africatown Historic District and none located in the toe areas or Happy Hills & Kelly Hills Neighborhoods. Lewis Quarters is surrounded by a paper mill. That paper mill announced two years ago that it was moving.

To see the larger images of the above pictures, please click – Railroad Expansion in Africatown 2024.

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