Leaders in Fort Valley work to solve longtime issue of trains blocking traffic
FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Trains blocking road ways and causing extended wait times for drivers has been an ongoing issue in Peach County for years.
Now District 139 State Rep. Patty Bentley is determined to fix it by bringing it to the Georgia State Capitol.
For drivers in Fort Valley, just trying to get across town can come with anywhere from an extra 5 to 30 minutes of waiting.
“They are having a major problem with the trains sitting on the tracks for an extended periods of time,” Bentley said.
But for first responders in Fort Valley, the moments they spend waiting on Norfolk Southern trains can sometimes be a matter of life and death.
“Once you get a call you need to respond to it asap–as soon as possible. But if you get there and the train is in the way, the train blocks the traffic, traffic gets backed up, it’s a problem for us,” Deputy EMA Director Henry Wilson told 41NBC.
He says it’s been a problem for years that even building an overpass to alleviate traffic couldn’t solve.
“I remember many years ago the mayor at the time threatened to take a bulldozer and block the tracks,” he recalled.
Susan Terpay with Norfolk Southern says the trains are stopped there picking up and dropping off rail cars of products for local businesses. But State Rep. Patty Bentley says if people can’t get to work the stoppage still poses an issue for businesses.
“I understand Norfolk has a business to run and they have things they have to do but it is creating such a major hardship for the citizens of Fort Valley and through out my district,” Bentley explained.
She’s looking to the state legislature for a solution.
“It’s really creating a lot of confusion and people can’t get to where they need to be in a timely manner, so if there is an opportunity to address that during the special session I certainly plan on doing that,” she continued.
It’s an age-old problem but residents and first responders are hoping the wait for change won’t be too much longer.
Terpay says a possible solution that Norfolk Southern and GDOT are looking into is expanding the overpass currently there and building a turn-off lane. That way, before trucks/cars get to the tracks, they can use it.
Governor Deal announced last month that he would convene a special legislative session beginning Tuesday, November 13th.
Bentley says she hopes to be able to address the issue there. But if not, she will continue to fight for a solution during the upcoming regular session.