Sycamore residents voice opinions about crossing closure - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sycamore residents voice opinions about crossing closure

SYCAMORE, GA -

A railroad crossing, deemed dangerous by city leaders in Sycamore, may not be shut down after all. A few months ago, a train slammed into tractor trailer that got stuck on the tracks.

The city council voted to close the intersection, but that was an unpopular decision with some folks. They tried to convince city leaders to change their minds.

On August 23rd, Sycamore city council voted to close the railroad crossing at Willis Road. But residents are upset, they say closing the crossing will affect public safety and local business.

Remember this video of a train crashing into a semi truck stuck on the tracks in Sycamore in June? City officials say this is just one reason why they want to close this railroad crossing at Willis Road.

Mayor Larry Youngblood says with the explosive chemicals the trains carry, crashes like this could be extremely dangerous for anyone living in the city.

"There is a lot of stuff that they carry that is real explosive going up and down this track, if that train had hit that truck in just the right way, and he would have derailed, and one of those would have exploded, it would have been really really bad for sycamore," says Larry Youngblood, Sycamore Mayor.

There have been two train collisions there in the last two years. After this crash, Mayor Youngblood received a letter from Norfolk Southern about a federal recommendation to close the intersection.

The Mayor says Norfolk Southern is offering $25,000 to the city to close it. He says it may eventually be a mandated closure anyway.

But local business owners don't want the crossing closed, saying it could cause them to lose business.

"A lot of the population is on that side of the tracks and if they have to go almost a half a mile to the next crossing, well they will be a good ways to Ashburn, they would bypass me and go on up there to buy gas or whatever," says Nick Denham, Denham One Stop Owner.

First responders think it closing the crossing could be a matter of public safety, possibly delaying response times.

"In a life threatening situation, say cardiac arrest, one minute, two minutes, could mean anything, it could mean life or death simply," says Robby Royal, Turner County EMS Director/ Turner County Fire Chief.

But Mayor Youngblood says public safety would not be hindered.

"Two fire dept in the city of sycamore, both of them operated by volunteer fire men, we have got a fire truck and water truck at this one, and a fire truck and water truck on this side of town, so it is not a issue of health and safety if they close this particular crossing," says Youngblood.

If closed, that means people would have to drive about half of a mile to the nearest crossing.

At the meeting Thursday afternoon, the city council decided to reconsider closing Willis crossing. They are going to look at the other two crossings and decide which one would affect residents the least.

Mayor Youngblood says they don't want to inconvenience anyone, but he says the money the city would receive for closing the crossing could help pay for other expenses as well.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.  

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