How did the Jefferson St. railroad crossing get so bad, and who's responsible?
The last train carrying scrap headed out of Georgia Power's Plant Branch and crossed over the North Jefferson Street railroad tracks years ago. When the power plant closed, the track essentially closed, too.
For CSX, the railroad company currently valued at roughly $74 billion, the old railroad line through Milledgeville obviously isn't at the top of its list of corporate concerns. For anyone in Milledgeville who commutes up and down Jefferson Street everyday, however, the railroad track definitely is a concern.
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At this point, "bumpy" would be an understatement. The railroad track has become an increasing point of chatter on local social media. Many blame the city government, although unfairly.
The city has been trying to prod and persuade CSX to do something with the railroad track for several years, according to City Manager Hank Griffeth.
"(CSX) will not allow us to work in their right of way," said Griffeth. "CSX railroad has been continually contacted by different parties by the city, most recently a letter from Sgt. Thomas Smith of the Milledgeville Police Department on March 22. Our city attorney has tried. I've tried. Basically, everyone has tried."
The response from CSX, according to Griffeth, essentially is always the same.
"Thanks for reaching out. We will forward your concerns to our right of way department," he said.
Griffeth said that he hears the public's concerns and understands its concerns. The topic actually came up last Saturday morning, when Griffeth was speaking to a local civic group. A man in the audience told Griffeth that he was retired from the Georgia Department of Transportation, and he recounted all of the times that the DOT had difficulty working with CSX over the years.
While most people aren't aware of it, Griffeth says that CSX will actually pay and reimburse motorists for damage caused by one of its railroad tracks. Here are two different online forms:
In a perfect world, according to Griffeth, CSX would just retire the railroad and "surplus it." At that point, the city could pay for the railroad track, as well as the one on North Wayne Street, to be removed and flattened, similar to the old track on the bypass near the YDC.