Hahira waits for GDOT decision on railroad crossing

Hahira waits for GDOT decision on railroad crossing
Accident at Lawson Crossing back in February 2018. (Source: WALB)

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The fate of one dangerous railroad crossing in Hahira officially rests in the hands of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

City council members voted last week to deny the Norfolk Southern Railway petition that would close the crossing on Lawson Street.

Hahira City Council members officially denied the request that would've come with a $40,000 incentive.

With the offer off the table, the city still has to deal with the potential of the Lawson Street Crossing being closed at the hands of the GDOT.

"We are sensitive to safety, obviously we are, but we hope that there can be other solutions," said City Manager Jonathan Sumner.

In 36 years, the Lawson Street Crossing has played a part in four train-involved accidents.

+GSP identifies
man who died in Hahira train collision
+Hahira train crossing may close
+GDOT to decide on railroad closing in Hahira

But even so, Hahira city council members officially denied a petition to close the crossing, leaving the ultimate decision up to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"The council decided to deny Norfolk Southern's petition, we have transmitted that denial to the department of transportation and anticipate a decision from GDOT within 60 days," explained Sumner.

WALB asked Sumner, why does the city want to keep the crossing open after a multitude of accidents? His answer was growth.

"We need every crossing, we need every ability to get across that railroad track, we want to do it in the safest possible manner as we can, but at the same time we don't want to preclude the knowledge that with growth, we're going to need that accessibility," Sumner said.

Sumner said the city has grown by 68 percent from 2000 to 2010.

"Our growth factor is put up with any suburban community in Atlanta," said Sumner.

City officials said they have made suggestions to the state about signalizing the crossing, but that decision is also beyond their control.

"There is an application process and a consideration process for the signalization of crossing that currently only have crossbucks. It's up to the Department of Transportation where it chooses to put gates and lights. We certainly hope that they would consider Lawson Street in the future," said Sumner.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.