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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
November 14, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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November 14, 2018

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Page 8C November 14, 2018 e e e By Diane Glidewell Forsyth rejected an offer from Norfolk Southern Railroad and DOT to improve the Lee Street and Tilt College crossings in exchange for dosing the crossing at Indian Springs Drive. Council members Mike Dodd, Melvin Law- rence, Greg Goolsby and Chris Hewett voted not to close the crossing and take the offer while Julius Stroud and John Howard abstained. William Miller, repre- senting Norfolk Southern, and Kevin Cowan and Michael Nash, represent- ing DOT, came to city council in early October offering almost $1 mil- lion for safety features and upgrades to the Lee Street and Tiff College cross- ings if the city would close the other two crossings in the city limits, at Indian Springs and Main Street. Residents near the Main Street crossing spoke about the difficulties dosing that crossing would cause them, and it was acknowledged that there are few safety concerns about the Main Street crossing. Developer Otis Ingram asked that he be reimbursed for re-doing the roadway at the Main Street crossing before Trac- tor Supply opened ffthe crossing is dosed. Miller, Cowan and Nash came back to council offering about $675,000 for improvements if the city would close only the Indian Springs crossing. Miller said funds would be used to put a rubber- ized substance between the tracks and on the roadway from the tracks to make the crossing smoother. Enhanced warning de- vices would be added at the crossings. They would leave the Main Street crossing alone. "I can't understand why we can't re-open one of the two crossings we closed [if we dose another crossing]" said Dodd. "You're talking about dosing 25 percent of our crossings, putting more traffic on Lee and Mize Streets:' Miller said engineering standards have changed since the crossings were dosed. Now there must be enough room for a tractor trailer to clear the track, and there is not enough room at the old crossing sites. Indian Springs there Thank you for all of your help with my ad in the Reporter I have received over 10 calls from potential clients over the last three weeks. It has been a great way to reach Medicare beneficia- ries in my community and I plan on extending my ad until the end of Medicare Open Enrollment. I highly recommend advertising in the Reporter! ~ Terry Martin, Independent Agent Specializing in Medicare Health Plans Medicare Health and Drug Plans can make changes each year. NOW is the time to review your benefits It's not too late to make changes! Find out what's new for 2019. Please feel free to call me and I will gladly answer any of your questions. I represent over 20 plans and will always give you honest and unbiased answers. There's never a charge for Services! Terry Martin Independent Agent Specializing in Medicare Health Plans Medicare Advantage & Part D Plans (478) 318-8581 Local Agent - Bolingbroke, GA is not enough storage for a car to dear. A young driver, even an adult, will panic if a train is coming and a car is coming. They don't know what to do" said Nash "The whole idea is to avoid fatalities. It's all about safety. I want to save lives in your community. I know I speak for Kevin and Will. You're not the only community we go to. It's not about holding you hostage" However, railroad and DOT representatives held firm that regardless of safety issues at the Lee Street and Tilt College crossings, there would be no assistance for the city in improving them if the city did not dose another crossing. The owners of Bryant's Collision, which is at the Indian Springs crossing and would be hurt if it is dosed, refuted Miller's con- tention that there is little traffic at the Indian Springs crossing and that emergen- cy vehicles don't use it. "There's a lot of traffic, including ambulances. It brought us there for vis- ibility and traffic" Bryant said. "It will pr[tty much dose us down [if you close the crossing]." He said the city police have been writing a lot of tickets to enforce the law at the crossing and to make drivers become aware of the need for safety. He noted that there have been as many accidents at the Tiff College crossing as at the Indian Springs crossing. He said many people use the Indian Springs crossing as a cut through to Monroe County Hospital and other places in town and will have to travel almost a mile to get to another crossing if it closes. When Dodd criticized Georgia DOT says that an average of 12,000 cars cross the railroad tracks on Lee Street v 0,4 k (l:)ko~o=/D;,= ,"~l;J.-.- oll) If you participate in any of the programs below, you may be eligible for lifeline Forsyth Main Street N Lee St. F0rsyth, GA 31029 www.faceb00k.q (478) 994-7747 ,# Medicaid Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps or SNAP) Supplemental Security Income (ssl) Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Total household income equal to or less than 135% Federal Poverty Guidelines Lifeline is a non-transferable, federal benefit that makes voice or broadband service Georgia DOT and Norfolk Southern offered Forsyth $675,000 in improvements for two q~ remaining crossings if it would give up this one on Indian Springs Drive. The closing would hurt Bryant's Collision, pictured across the tracks, and inconvenience citizens who regularly: use the crossing. .' the railroad and DOT rep- resentatives for their "carrot and stick" offer, Miller said, "More than that, you leave it in the dust and you have what you have." Dodd persisted in asking if there isn't some way to re-open another crossing if more affordable.The program is limited to one discount per household.An eligible household may apply the monthly Lifeline discount to either broadband service or voice service but not both. Lifeline customers also have the option to apply the discount to a service bundle, :such as home phone and home internet'The Lifeline voice service also includes toll blocking to qualifying customers without charge. For more Information on Lifeline call 1-800-234-9473 Or visit their website at they close one. He said the city had re-done Railroad Avenue not long ago and is pleased with the result. He suggested the city and DOT partner in re-doing the crossings and maintain- ing them. "Gosh knows how many millions that would cost:' said Miller. "We didn't spend millions and we made a wonderful street" said Dodd. "Maybe the solution is to get other engineers:' said Stroud. "Don't waste your time and money:' said Miller. "It's not going to happen" "What's the next one you want closed?" asked Dodd. "There'll be a next one" "We're being held hos- tage:' said Stroud. "You work for the state, right? Why can't we work to- gether?" Cowan said that he had explained in early October that the funds DOT has to improve railroad crossings are federal funds and DOT ranks all 12,000 crossings in the state from 1 to 24 as to the probability of an accident. The ranking comes from visibility at the crossing and gets bumped up by how much traffic the crossing has and how many school buses use it. He said he has 6,000 crossings on his list that need improve- ments in safe . Cowan said that if the city closes Indian Springs, work will begin at LeeStreet and Tiff College crossings in five or six months. Oth- erwise it would be at least several years before any funds would be considered for improving crossings in Forsyth. Nash said DOT gets $9 million per year in , federal funds and distrib- utes it to 6,000 crossings, doing 20-25 per year. " Wilson said the other option is for the city to make improvements to the crossings itself. Miller said the equipment alone for the Tift College crossing will cost $300,000. He said they will need additional circuitry along the track to warn ofwhen a train is coming. Bryant said part of the problem is trains keep coming through faster and . faster, often coming by Bryant's Collision at 50-60 : mph. "Can't you slow the trains down as they come through town?" He asked. Howard said he abstained. from the vote because he L: wasn't sure but did not want to lose any money , from the state and have ,i to spend the city's money , where state money could be used. Stroud said he ab- ,i stained because there were :; too many loose ends. Goolsby said the main problem is safety at the Tiff College crossing and he hopes the railroad will reconsider helping with safety features. He made a motion to ask Norfolk Southern to reconsider helping increase safety at the Tiff College crossing, and the motion passed unanimously. "I appreciate your open mindedness:' said Miller. - "We're in Atlanta if you want to come talk to us:'