Proposal to reroute train tracks ran out of options

  • Follow Metro

Railroad crossings in downtown Augusta holding you up?

Traffic sits blocked at 15th and Broad streets as a train passes. No progress was made on previous plans to reroute tracks.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Traffic sits blocked at 15th and Broad streets as a train passes. No progress was made on previous plans to reroute tracks.

Officials say it's a delay that's not going away.

A plan pitched about six years ago to have some tracks rerouted in downtown has gone by the wayside, and officials say there seem to be no other viable options at this time.

"We have worked on that for years (and it had been worked on for decades prior to that) and have still made no progress," Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said via e-mail.

One of the most recent ideas -- pitched by then-state Rep. Jack Connell -- was to reroute some of tracks onto the third level of the Augusta Canal.

"I haven't seen much on it lately," Mr. Connell said last week.

In 2002, Mr. Connell secured $50,000 in the state budget to study moving the tracks, and officials with CSX Corp. said then they were willing to discuss the possibility.

"When you start talking about changing train tracks, that's a major undertaking," said Mr. Connell, whose idea ultimately was dropped.

His plan was to drain the third level of the canal and provide a new bed for the tracks that enter the city at Hawks Gully near 15th Street and cross Walton Way, as well as 15th through Sixth streets.

The tracks would have been rerouted below canal bridges from 15th Street to Sixth Street.

At the time, city leaders worried about the costs and were concerned historic areas of the canal could be damaged.

"Cost is definitely an issue and dealing with the railroads is no easy task!" Mr. Copenhaver said via e-mail.

Mr. Connell isn't the first to suggest moving downtown Augusta's train tracks.

According to The Story of Augusta , written by historian Ed Cashin, "Pop" Newman won his first mayoral term in 1972 mostly on a promise to get rid of many of the rail crossings in downtown Augusta.

Comments (29) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
SandyK2005
1
Points
SandyK2005 01/26/09 - 01:10 am
0
0
How long has it been since

How long has it been since these tracks been promised to be moved again? 40+ years? We have gotten to the Moon faster than getting the tracks rerouted.

SargentMidTown
8
Points
SargentMidTown 01/26/09 - 01:19 am
0
0
Pop" Newman did accomplish

Pop" Newman did accomplish the removal of the grave markers in the Rollersvill cemetery. He had a large monument placed in the middle with his name prominently on it. If the old man had integrity he would perform a restitution for the Harrisburg cemetery before he dies and because of his age he has not got long.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 04:34 am
0
0
Because of what Augusta and

Because of what Augusta and the railroad represent, the idea of moving any tracks was, and is, hardly viable. The overpass concept is the only one with any chance of happening. (example: Walton Way @ 6th)

8561dhc
0
Points
8561dhc 01/26/09 - 06:43 am
0
0
Let's not forget Columbia

Let's not forget Columbia County as well, where overpasses at Baston Rd and Bobby Jones, and to a lesser degree on Evans to Locks, are sorely needed. Barring overpasses, a little more consideration from CSX regarding how trains pass through Evans/Martinez would go a long way. There is nothing more infuriating in the morning than being late for work and watching a train slowly idle up and stop on the Baston Rd crossing. During one such stop, my wife watched one of the engineers jump off the train, saunter into a gas station convenience store, and get a soft drink and snacks. Fix the train issue and you will boost quality of life in Columbia County.

HTN007
19
Points
HTN007 01/26/09 - 08:10 am
0
0
"Cost is definitely an issue

"Cost is definitely an issue and dealing with the railroads is no easy task!" Mr. Copenhaver said via e-mail...........so app;y to the federal government for funding under the new infrastructure initiative the Obama administration is planning as part of his economic stimulus package?

bsbr032581
0
Points
bsbr032581 01/26/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
The tracks don't necessarily

The tracks don't necessarily have to be re-routed. I think it would be nice if they could just change the times the trains come through-instead of 8:30 a.m. Noon and 5:00 p.m.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 01/26/09 - 08:49 am
0
0
Put in crossing arms and

Put in crossing arms and speed the trains up. I have been saying this since Devaney put a single bridge at Walton Way and Sixth St. If a train is now traveling at 4 miles an hour through the city and your wait at an intersection is 10 minutes, then speeding the train up to 8 miles per hour makes your wait only 5 minutes.

diamond in the rough
45
Points
diamond in the rough 01/26/09 - 08:59 am
0
0
Don't reroute the tracks just

Don't reroute the tracks just fix them....if you fix them make it smooth and flat. The train tracks is just another part of history!
I agree Duhjudge put in crossing arms, speed up train!

Little Lamb
56842
Points
Little Lamb 01/26/09 - 09:04 am
0
0
I find it relaxing to wait in

I find it relaxing to wait in my car at a railroad crossing. You can listen to the radio or just think for a while. And thinking about all the wonderful materials in the train cars and how those materials are improving people's lives is rewarding. Let's slow down and enjoy the pauses life sends our way.

Riverman1
120735
Points
Riverman1 01/26/09 - 09:09 am
0
0
Actually, in the past the

Actually, in the past the train has been given tickets for speeding by our local law enforcement. Speaking of trains routes, Augusta is about to lose something as important as I-20 has been. A high speed train route from Charlotte to Atlanta is going to take the other way through Greenville it appears.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 09:32 am
0
0
The idea to speed up trains

The idea to speed up trains in the city limits is ... uninformed. Think inertia. Think mass. Think weight. Speeding up a train in the city limits is NOT the right idea.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/26/09 - 10:49 am
0
0
believe it or not, I have

believe it or not, I have seen trains stop and sit waiting for the next crew to take over. The first crew left and about 5 minutes later a crew showed up, suitcases and all. Th took place on molly pond.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 02:23 pm
0
0
That's right disssman. There

That's right disssman. There are limits on how long a crew can be on a train. If the crew reaches their limit, they must stop and leave the train immediately, regardless of where the train is....no exceptions.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/26/09 - 04:11 pm
0
0
Yeah patricia I understand

Yeah patricia I understand crew changes, but in the middle of a city?

r11mcbell
0
Points
r11mcbell 01/26/09 - 05:19 pm
0
0
isn't anyone going to ask

isn't anyone going to ask what happened to the first 50,000?

corgimom
51590
Points
corgimom 01/26/09 - 05:56 pm
0
0
The $50,000 was used to study

The $50,000 was used to study what everyone already has known since 1972, since the train tracks have stayed in the exact same spot that whole time. Augusta couldn't afford it back when costs were cheap and they REALLY can't afford it now.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 01/26/09 - 06:08 pm
0
0
Speed them up does not mean

Speed them up does not mean 60 MPH. And with crossing guard rails, you get the safety factor. Think about it. The railroad has as much a right to be here as any car, truck, or ambulance on the road. They are NOT going away. So instead of complaining about them, and running studies ad nauseum, accept that there is a practical solution that would relieve a significant amount of the inconvenience of waiting.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 06:55 pm
0
0
DuhJudge, 25 mph is beyond a

DuhJudge, 25 mph is beyond a safe speed in the city because of the inertia factor. How many feet do you think it would take to stop a 100 car train moving at 25 mph as opposed to one the same size moving at 9 mph? (hint: the answer isn't 2.5)

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 01/26/09 - 08:09 pm
0
0
Question: How fast are

Question: How fast are trains traveling through Augusta? Say from the crossing of Walton Way at 11th, to 13th, to Greene, to 15th. That train pretty much interferes with the entire city before it gets to the other side of River Watch. I doubt that it is going 12.4 miles per hour. In fact, I suspect it is going more like 4 MPH. Regardless, if speeding the train up by a factor of 2 is not doable because the train has to creep into the rail yard, what about when it is leaving town? It isn't too slow when it flies past Club Car, Old Evans, or Baston Road.

RW1953
1
Points
RW1953 01/26/09 - 09:49 pm
0
0
i hope someone from the s.c.

i hope someone from the s.c. side of the tracks doesn't die in an ambulance waiting for a train to cross...those train tracks cut off all access to the hospitals from s.c.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 09:55 pm
0
0
I understand your

I understand your frustration, DuhJudge. The answer is the rail. The yard rails are much smaller and not as well set. While they'll handle the weight of the trains, they don't handle the rapid stopping and weight shifting affiliated with that kind of action. When the trains are on the main rails, they're on much more steel and the increased speed is acceleration speed with almost no chance of braking. Again, inertia. The trains are going as fast as they can safely go out of town and coming into town. The railroad doesn't like slowing down their deliveries any more than they have to or any more than you like the roads blocked. Unfortunately, the towns always seem to grow up around switch yards and the ensuing traffic problems develop over the years. I worked on the Burlington Northern for a couple of years when I was young. As a freight clerk, I had to deal with all of this stuff on a regular basis.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 09:59 pm
0
0
RW1953, the new St.Sebastian

RW1953, the new St.Sebastian extension is supposed to contend with the railroad.

SandyK2005
1
Points
SandyK2005 01/26/09 - 10:20 pm
0
0
"i hope someone from the s.c.

"i hope someone from the s.c. side of the tracks doesn't die in an ambulance waiting for a train to cross." ----- Knowing this city, they wouldn't even care. Will need to reroute tracks eventually, because as we wait, the bill is only going to get higher. Can't ignore the issue forever.

patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 01/26/09 - 11:14 pm
0
0
Or, SandyK, the fly over

Or, SandyK, the fly over system can still be utilized and it's much less expensive while not having to contend with the railroads. Some inconvenience is going to exist regardless of the solution. Why make it more difficult than it has to be? Does the city care is someone dies? It's a collection of people, how can everyone in the city not care? If only one person cares, does the city care?

TheTruth
1
Points
TheTruth 01/26/09 - 11:48 pm
0
0
This is garbage. The simple

This is garbage. The simple fact is that CSX doesn't want to spend money on capital outlay to reroute. Because they provide the city a big tax base, no one in local government ever meaningfully pursues the issue. Someone give me a good rationale for why the track system can't be bypassed along the river side of Sandbar Ferry Road, Riverwatch Parkway, and run a ring around the outside of Bobby Jones Expressway to interconnect tracks going out of Augusta and move everything away from the heart of downtown? Expalin what is so hard. Looking at a map of Augusta, it seems pretty easy to me.

FedupwithAUG
0
Points
FedupwithAUG 01/26/09 - 11:57 pm
0
0
Bunch of Homophobes in

Bunch of Homophobes in Augusta. When are the theaters going to play the movie milk? I would like to see it before it wins an Oscar.

Former Augustan
0
Points
Former Augustan 01/27/09 - 01:19 am
0
0
I left Augusta in 1969, and

I left Augusta in 1969, and there were proposals to move the tracks again and again and again. Now, here we are 40 years later, and the tracks and delays remain. How many blocked ambulances and fire trucks does it take? What does that tell you about Augusta?

Former Augustan
0
Points
Former Augustan 01/27/09 - 01:25 am
0
0
In the LA area, there are

In the LA area, there are many railroad crossings -- BUT - there are cross-arms and warning lights, restrictions on train lengths, and the trains (Amtrack, commuter, freights) go through at 40+ MPH. The longest train gives you a wait of maybe 2 minutes. Somebody made a comment above that 25 MPH was too fast -- that's the kind of thinking that keeps Augusta a podunk one-horse town.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 01/27/09 - 09:03 am
0
0
Speed them up. I know it can

Speed them up. I know it can be done.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

CDC says more HPV vaccination needed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the rates of vaccination for those ages 13-17 for three recommended adolescent vaccines against HPV, meningitis and pertussis or whooping cough.
Search Augusta jobs