RINCON, Ga. (WTOC) - UPDATE: The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office says CSX will not be closing the crossing at 15th Street in Rincon on Thursday.
CSX notified Rincon City Hall on Wednesday that they will not be doing the closure. A spokesperson for CSX says they will possibly schedule the repair for next year.
Residents in Rincon are nervous as they inch closer to a railroad closure that would lock them in or out of their neighborhood for about 12 hours on Thursday.
CSX will conduct regular surfacing maintenance on Thursday, Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.
The biggest problem with the closure is that there is only one way in and one way out for the Picket Fences neighborhood. It is proving to be a huge inconvenience, and is essentially illegal in the City of Rincon.
Starting Thursday morning at 9 a.m., the 15th Street railroad crossing won’t have any cars crossing it, and residents like Donald Michael Krammer are coming up with backup plans.
“I can park my car up the road on the other side of the tracks, and my wife’s car on this side, so this way, if anything happens to my family, I can get out of here,” Krammer said.
2018 Effingham County property records show almost 200 lots beyond the railroad crossroads. Most are homes filled with families.
“It’s just a little bit more concerning, because you do have kids that it is going to affect, as far as the buses coming through,” said resident, Alicia Jordan.
The Effingham County School District sent out a letter to parents saying school buses will stop before the crossing and let kids off. If they are under nine-years-old, a parent must pick them up and walk them across the tracks.
A CSX spokesperson says this surfacing maintenance is essential, and includes extensive planning.
“So, I know where CSX is coming from,” said resident, Mark Edick. “To me, it’s the City of Rincon’s fault. They allowed so many houses in here without another entrance.”
According to the City of Rincon ordinance, “if a subdivision consists of more than 75 lots, then two or more permanent, publicly-approved entrances/exits are required."
“So, somebody, somewhere should have kept up with things, and they haven’t,” said homeowner, Kevin Summitt.
Residents say beyond Thursday’s inconvenience is a problem that could have been avoided with a second entrance they’ve been asking for for years.
In reference to WTOC’s question about a second entrance request, Rincon’s city manager said "the original subdivision was approved many years ago.”
“We are way above 75 now, but nobody seems to say, 'let’s go by the law and let’s do what’s right and build another exit out of this place."
The question comes down to who is responsible: the city, the builders, or the homeowner’s association? Picket Fences homeowner and mother, Alicia Jordan, says regardless, pointing the finger isn’t helping; it’s hurting.
“They always push the blame off on, ‘oh, it’s on the city,’ ‘oh, it’s on the builder.' You just never get any straight answers from anybody," Jordan said. “It’s been an ongoing issue for many years. I’ve been here eight years, and we run into this all the time where they need to close it down, and we get conflicting information, and everyone panics, and they all of a sudden cancel."
WTOC reached out to the city about their emergency game plan for Thursday. They say they’ll have police and fire personnel on site to assist the neighborhood for the entire time. They will also have a courtesy van running up and down the street all day.