GARDEN CITY, Ga. – After decades of frustration and complaints, neighbors in Garden City could be days away from a possible solution to train traffic.
On Monday, Garden City City Council, Mayor Don Bethune and others met to reveal a proposed plan to concerned drivers and neighbors.
During the November 6th meeting, several people shared their grievances by expressing how CSX trains had kept them from getting to work and school on time. It was then Mayor Bethune and council said it would do whatever possible to fix the traffic problem of cars and people being stuck for hours upon, sometimes daily, while train cars sad idle waiting to be receiving into the port.
On Monday, again, people walked to the podium to share their concerns.
“We have students who cannot afford to sit in a railroad crossing for an hour,” Director of Transportation for Savannah Chatham County Public Schools Timothy Burns said. “I have contacted CSX in the past and told them we have special needs students on this bus. There was no cooperation.”
Bethune shared his frustration calling the company’s actions, “unacceptable” saying,”it is incumbent to CSX to come up with a better plan.”
On November 14th, Mayor Bethune along with City Manager Ron Feldner, Police Chief David Lyons and others met with CSX to discuss the ongoing headaches caused by prolonged train traffic.
In a press release concerning the meeting “CSX has agreed to review their local operations to identify potential improvements that may help minimize CSX related impacts on local residents and businesses, and they have provided direct contact information for local CSX staff in an effort to improve communication with the City in the event of a blockage incident. In addition, CSX and the City agreed to engage Georgia Department of Transportation and local roadway authorities to evaluate potential traffic control measures that would give through-traffic on Telfair Road advance warning of a train within the crossing, thereby allowing drivers to seek alternate routes.”
During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Bethune revealed a possible solution that was brought up with CSX. This request asks CSX to hold its trains and train cars two miles north of busy residential areas in the western part of the city near the port.
“It’s time for them to be a good neighbor,” Bethune said of CSX.
For now, Bethune asks for people patience and to use common sense if a train is stopped in front of their neighborhood entrance, including never climbing under a train. Bethune also addressed municipal powers of Garden City are limited but said they would continue to look into options to keep CSX “accountable.”
“I along with city council will continue to work on this. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I can assure you that we will continue to work on this,” Bethune said.
Several people asked if the city would consider raising the fine for a train being stalled and therefore blocking traffic. Currently, there is a maximum of a thousand dollars, issued by Garden City, that can be assigned for each incident no matter how long the train is blocking traffic past ten minutes of the initial report.
The proposal is now in the hands of CSX. If the company agrees to the change, drivers and neighbors could expect to see a change within two weeks.
Those who missed the meeting and would like to weigh in are encouraged to contact the mayor’s office or the office of the city manager.