Bowden Street railroad crossing will be closed

The Locust Grove city council has unanimously approved the closure of the Bowden Street railroad crossing, following a request in recent weeks from Norfolk Southern to do so. The railroad will now start the process to close the crossing and install barricades on either side at no cost to the city.

Approximately twenty tractor-trailers have become stuck on the crossing from 2017 to now, including one struck by a train in August 2017. Recently, the number of trucks attempting to cross from Georgia 42 have increased despite not being an issue in the past. The tractor-trailers have been passing through town and following GPS directions.

Previous efforts to reduce tractor-trailer traffic across the crossing have included no truck signage — seven on the side of Bowden Street and five on Georgia 42 — and constructing a commercial-vehicle right-turn lane off Bowden Street.

Photo of tractor-trailer stuck on Bowden Street railroad crossing (special photo)
(special photo)

Height bars are not a viable alternative in lieu of closing the crossing following discussions with both Georgia DOT and Norfolk Southern. This is due to the risk they could be struck and fall either into opposing traffic or on the railroad tracks.

If the city council had denied the railroad’s request to close the crossing, Norfolk Southern could appeal to Georgia DOT and the state decide independently whether to close it. The railroad also requested and the city agreed to close the Pine Grove Road railroad crossing.

Staff are working on the final touches before releasing a request for proposals (RFP) to study constructing grade-separated crossings in the city. The grade-separated crossings study will be funded through $50,000 set aside in the city’s SPLOST program and $100,000 the railroad will pay the city for the two closures.

In an agreement between the city and Norfolk Southern, the railroad agrees to allow Locust Grove to construct two grade-separated crossings in the future. The two most likely locations are the intersections of state route 42 at Bill Gardner Parkway and state route 42 at Marketplace Blvd; however, the study will evaluate other options and may recommend different locations.