COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - City leaders and residents held a heated but important discussion Wednesday night over a potential railroad crossing closure in a Columbus neighborhood.
The Columbus engineering department says the closure, which residents say could create big problems, is only being discussed for now.
The meeting was held at the Delta Sigma Theta sorority house on Forest Road.
Residents are concerned about an increase in traffic, emergency vehicle delays and finding a different way of getting in and out of the neighborhood.
Dozens who use Lamore Street made it clear their answer is "no" to the idea of any closure, blocking off parts of the street from other ways of access.
A train runs several times a day right across Lamore Street where hundreds of people live and businesses are located. However, Norfolk Southern Railway is thinking of closing the crossing for several reasons.
"We were contacted by the railroad and their desire is to partner with the Department of Transportation and use federal funds to go in and make improvements to certain rail crossings. It's part of a safety program and what they prefer to do is close redundant crossing. Every crossing is a potential liability for a railroad and a potential safety concern for accidents," said Donna Newman, Director of Engineering for Columbus Consolidated Government.
Residents who live in the area were asked to voice their concerns in a meeting with the Columbus Consolidated Engineering Department. Some were upset the crossing is being considered.
"That's like a regular road for most of us in the area. We use that road everyday. It makes no sense to close it," said resident Charlotte Irvin.
Marshall Pitts owns property in the neighborhood that could be affected.
"We have a lot of elderly people in the are who need medical attention some of the time. For them to shut that off from those people would be a disaster really," said Pitts.
Newman says nothing is set in stone yet. The railroad company and the Department of Transportation does not have the authority to close a crossing because the roads are owned by the city.
The Lamore Street railroad crossing has come up before to potentially close.
"This is a similar program that we went through in the mid 90s where we did go in a close several crossing," said Newman.
If the crossing is closed, residents say finding a different route to travel and the increase in traffic will cause plenty of problems they are not willing to deal with.
Surveys filled out from the meeting will be collected and presented to the mayor, city manager and the council.
The engineering department say it's possible the potential closure may not make it to a city council meeting for a vote of approval and the closure could never happen.
More meetings with neighbors will be schedule in the next few weeks.