SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Blaring train horns at late hours and traffic backups through mid-town Savannah all the way to President Street continue to be an ongoing challenge.
To fix the issues, local, state and federal agencies have to come together, along with private industry.
WTOC spoke with one elected Savannah leader who’s dealing with the train problem in his district about what solutions could be on the horizon.
Since our last update on this story last summer, safety improvements have been made to mid-town crossings, and redundant crossings closed.
But the root of the issue is crossings like the one at Bull and Victory Streets need crossing arms to keep a conductor from having to blow the train horn at every crossing the train encounters.
“We’ve got federal, state and local public rights of way that we’re all trying to get to the same table and find out how we build safer crossings that may result in a quieter safe zone here in the City of Savannah for our trains,” said 4th District Alderman Nick Palumbo. Palumbo says the issues affect multiple city districts, and that Council as a whole is working to tackle the problem.
But it’s going to take the Georgia Department of Transportation to come in and inspect each crossing, and determine what safety upgrades are needed, before the City can apply with the federal government for a quiet zone later this year.
Palumbo said, “That’s our big effort too, is we want to try to pin them down to a hard timeline and make sure that it’s funded. You’re not engaged until you have a ring and a date. So we’ve got to have the budgets there and a timeline for them to actually begin construction.”
Palumbo explained in years past, there were only a few train operators that had a sort of handshake deal to not blare their horn after 10 p.m. But now he says there are more who might not be familiar with the area.
“It could be a new operator, maybe he’s from out of town, temporarily running this line. He’s trying to follow it by the book, and blasting it at every single intersection. He’s looking at a map saying wait, I’ve got to cross through all of these streets...I’m just going to lay on the horn and ride it all the way through the city.”
Alderman Palumbo said the city is also working toward having the line operators meet with community members to see how issues with backups at the President Street crossing can also be resolved.
“We want business to continue, we want our ports to be successful, we want industry to be successful...we also want them to be good neighbors as well.’