Eight-months pregnant Casey Friday and her family hoisted their Thanksgiving meal across railroad tracks on Thanksgiving day. She and her family formed an assembly line of sorts, passing all their fully-prepared Thanksgiving dishes to one another from one side of the tracks to the other.
That’s because their cars couldn’t cross the tracks. A train was sitting there.
“The train [had been] stopped for 16 hours,” said Casey’s husband Justin.
When the Fridays moved into their Hall Road home in Silver Creek two years ago, they knew the dead-end was accessible only via a double rail line crossing. What they didn’t realize, however, was the frequency with which this issue would affect their daily lives.
“We were told it was an issue once or twice a year,” Justin said. “It’s more often than that and can last for a few minutes or nearly a whole day.”
It quickly became apparent to the Fridays that stopped trains have been an issue for quite a while.
Casey, an expectant mother, is concerned about a stopped train impeding the couple’s route to the hospital later this month. The couple’s second son came a month early, so the Fridays feel the pressure of being on the clock.
Hall Road — a dead end — sits sandwiched between the double railroad tracks that are part of the Norfolk Southern line to the east, and the flowing waters of Silver Creek to the west.
The problem is a scheduling one. The crossing near the Fridays’ home is a double track. At certain times, one train must stop and wait for an-other to pass so that it can continue on its way. Scheduling decides how often and how long a train will be stopped there.
It’s not just medical emergencies that are a concern, however. The Thanksgiving incident is just another example of how the Fridays said they’re inconvenienced. Casey, two children and the entire Thanksgiving dinner had to jump the tracks over the train car connec-tions to travel 10 miles to his in-laws’ house.
“We were supposed to have around 25 people over to [our] house, but had to scratch that plan and move the whole thing.”
Justin said having an eight-months pregnant wife and two children maneuvering the train tracks is worrisome enough, but an assembly line handoff of a fully prepared Thanksgiving meal only added to the stress his family feels on a daily basis.
Hall Road residents are still hopeful a solution will soon be found for their parked train problem. The county has been working to help find a solution, whether temporary or permanent.
“We are doing everything in our power to come up with an alternate route,” said Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord. “We had hoped we could do a land swap or acquire some right of way and that’s still our goal, but we’re going to run into some wetlands.”
The county owns a right of way that connects to Hall Road and could attempt to use it for at least a short-term exit. The county authorized a survey in the summer and is looking into various funding options, how-ever the eventual cost for a project is unknown.
The county met with officials from Norfolk Southern and, according to McCord, the company is open to aiding a project financially. There may also be some Georgia DOT funds available for such an undertaking.
Justin Friday said he also has aging neighbors who require frequent medical attention and the train stoppages are so unpredictable that it’s often an issue.
“The easiest solution would be for the train not to block for long peri-ods of time,” he said.
He frequently has to call the railroad’s dispatch and at times they have been helpful and free with information, but he’s worried that in the future, conductors may be unable to help in a real emergency. He said residents feel like they’re taking a daily gamble on their health and their employment.
McCord said an old rail bed may end up providing part of the solution, but no final plan has been drawn up. The simplest path to this point seems to be some sort of connection to Reeceburg Road to the south, giving residents an outlet to Booze Mountain road that runs west into Lindale.
At this point, it appears outsourcing the project is the better option going forward, McCord said, regardless of the eventual plan.