SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s a headache Savannah residents in the mid-town area, as well as commuters, have dealt with for years.
And according to them, it's only getting worse.
Trains pass through the neighborhoods blaring their horn at each crossing in the early morning hours, and then cause backups on President Street near the Truman at rush hour.
With a new short-line operator of the CSX-owned line that cuts through mid-town Savannah, ultimately ending at the Savannah River .. comes solutions to some of the persistent problems, according to City leaders.
Genesee and Wyoming is out, and a Kansas-based company called Watco is in.
“Watco is going to help us with some of the short-term measures for the traffic congestion on President Street. They’re going to try to the best of their ability not to operate during rush hour traffic," said Assistant to the City Manager, Joe Shearouse, Jr.
Shearouse, Jr. said the rush hour time periods they’ve negotiated with Watco that are in place now are 7 to 9 in the morning, and 4 to 6 in the afternoon.
When it comes to the on-going noise issues with train horns blaring at each of the two-dozen crossings through the city, that’s going to be a more long-term fix, which is applying for what’s called a Quiet Zone designation.
“...which would allow train operators to not have to blow their horns through the 24 crossings which exist through Savannah’s mid-town," explained Shearouse, Jr.
Before the City can apply for that designation, crossings need safety improvements, which according to Shearouse, Jr. could be things like adding signal lights and crossing arms.
“The Georgia Department of Transportation indicated that they may have some funding available. This is not a done deal yet, we’re still in the process of negotiating," said 2nd District Alderman Bill Durrence. He continued, "But they may be able to help us with some safety concerns in addressing the railroad crossings. And if they can do that, once we have those safety concerns addressed, we can start pursuing the Quiet Zone legislation that we need.”
Shearouse said he feels they’ll have a clearer picture of the partnership between the City and GDOT on that project in the next few months.