City urged to consent to railroad crossing closure

The Georgia Department of Transportation is “strongly” recommending the Cairo City Council consider closing the railroad crossing at Third Street S.E.
Last May, the DOT and CSX Transportation made a recommendation to the city for railroad crossings at Third and Sixth Streets S.E. be closed.
The city rejected both, but in a letter from the DOT dated March 19, the department “strongly recommends that the City reevaluate this decision.”
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton told the city council Monday night, “I don’t know if the state can force us to close it or not.”
Cairo City Attorney Thomas L. Lehman said he did not “see how” the state had such authority, but he noted he had not researched the Georgia code section referenced in the DOT letter.
“If they close the crossing on Third Street will they put a barricade there?” Councilman Bobby Gwaltney asked.
Addleton said some sort of barricade would have to be put in place.
Cairo Mayor Richard VanLandingham said the former Harvey’s Supermarket building could be the potential site for future economic development and he questioned if closing the crossing closest to that location would be a negative for development at that site.
“I’m not sure it would make a whole lot of difference there, but I would like to know what the people who own property on both sides of Third Street S.E. and Second Street N.E. think,” Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said.
The city manger said that if the city would be forced to close the railroad crossing a public hearing would be held prior to final action.
The majority of the council indicated a lack of willingness to close the crossing unless they were forced to.
Councilman Douglas also said he would request to know what the railroad’s plans for the crossing would be if in fact it was closed.
According to Addleton, the next step would be for CSX to formally request the closure of the crossing. In the meantime he requested Lehman research the state code to determine if the city can be forced to agree to closing the crossing.
“I would not recommend closing it if we don’t have to,” the city manager said.
In other business Monday night, the council:
Learned that the Trails Grant application for Azalea Park was not approved, but Addleton said the city would reapply this fall. The grant was prepared by University of Georgia students as part of the Archway Partnership.
Instructed the city manager to direct city crews to remove a tree at Davis Park that was reported to be leaning toward the swing sets by a concerned citizen.

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