Waiting for the Train to Pass

By Ben Wolf
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Waiting at the railroad crossing is a frustration Valdosta residents say they experience too much.

"I would be late for work all the time. I would have to call in almost every time and say look, I'm stuck at this train," said Valdosta resident Sarah Lord.

"They'll come across and they'll back up in front of you," added Valdosta's Joseph Castleberry.

Valdosta Mayor John Fretti heard citizens' complaints and was surprised when he looked into the situation.

"Nearly 94 percent of the traffic stoppage is due to trains switching. Switching, not through trains," he said.

And that's when Fretti came up with a new plan. The initiative calls for moving the switchyard to the east side of town to alleviate problems at busy intersections like that of St. Augustine and Savannah.

Fretti says the $1 million move of the switchyard could happen in just one year.

"We have the money, we have the conceptual design, and we have the permission from the railroad company. There's nothing stopping us now except from finding some land."

The city reports trains crossing St. Augustine and Savannah cause tens of thousands of cars per day to stop, something that could change with a location switch of the switchyard.

Valdosta Mayor John Fretti presented the train switchyard initiative at his state of the city address.