Help is — hopefully — on the way for some Silver Creek residents who never know when they may be blocked for hours in their homes by trains stopped on the railroad tracks at Hall Road.
“It’s a project we looked at in ’09 or ’10, but we didn’t have any money,” Floyd County Special Projects Manager Bruce Ivey said. “There’s more money around now, so we’re going to try to push forward. Especially if we can get some help.”
The double tracks are regular stopping points for Norfolk Southern trains waiting for an oncoming train to pass or to switch between two lines that run into Silver Creek and Lindale. Old Rockmart Road, and the rest of the world, is on one side of the crossing. Seven homes are on the other, with no back way out.
Casey Friday and her family moved into one of the homes earlier this year and were not prepared for the impact on their lives.
“We’ll be late for things, and it’s not safe,” she said. “We’re risking our jobs. But I feel like the county is willing to do their part and I’m grateful they understand.”
County Manager Jamie McCord said Friday there are several obstacles to overcome, but the project has been moved to the front burner.
“This happens multiple periods a day, for multiple hours a day,” he said. “It can affect emergency responses, fire protection and the ability for (residents) to come and go as they please.”
The county appears to own some old railroad right of way that could be used for a bypass, McCord said, and Ivey is researching the deeds. There also are wetlands and a flood plain in the area, so environmental work would be required. But the biggest hurdle always has been the funding.
McCord said the Georgia Department of Transportation may have some money available, and he’s arranging to meet with officials to discuss it. He also wants to talk with Norfolk Southern officials about options.
“There are new people everywhere, since the last time we tried to address this,” he noted.
Ivey said a bypass could be done in-house, especially if GDOT funds the material, but railroad officials may be willing to help with a relocation if the crossing is closed. A number of different scenarios are possible, McCord said.
“We’ve got the dialogue started,” McCord said. “It’ll involve us, obviously; DOT, maybe; and the railroad, for sure. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I’m optimistic that if everyone participates we can find a solution.”