CATOOSA COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) – Lauren Irwin lives near the Graysville Road railroad crossing.
It’s a crossing she drives over daily.
“Living close to the track is not necessarily a bad thing. You just learn to live with the track. You time your comings and goings and you listen for the train. It can be backed up and it can be a problem when the train is here and shifting,” Irwin said.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Catoosa County Commissioners announced that they would fund a bridge to go over the tracks.
That, they hope, would alleviate stopped traffic that has had an impact on public safety and the school system.
Catoosa County Superintendent Denia Reese said four buses cross the tracks 17 times everyday.
She said buses get delayed on average, five to six times a week.
“Once our bus pulls close to the track it usually cannot back up or turn around to reroute. We have had a bus loaded with students get stuck at the crossing for almost two hours in the past when mechanical difficulties are happening at the track,” Reese said.
Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk said his vehicles have been stopped by a train several times responding to calls.
“For our response to detour, to have to go around that way can delay us anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. When you’re responding on an emergency call when life is in danger that’s just not a delay that’s acceptable,” Sheriff Sisk said.
Commission Chairman Steven Henry said the bridge would only get built if TSPLOST passes.
TSPLOST would increase sales tax from 7 to 8 percent.
That has some residents wanting to vote no.
“I do believe that it is an important issue. I do believe that it’s a safety issue too, but for such an important safety issue why was that not put as a priority on the, for the allocation of the last SPLOST dollars,” Catoosa County Resident Joanna Hildreth said.
The project would cost around 12 to 14 million dollars and take about three years to complete.
As for Irwin, she’s concerned about how construction on the project might impact her and other residents that live in the area.
“If you want me to vote for this tax increase and have my support then, yes, I want to make sure that my family, children, and my neighbors kids are all going to be safe. That we’re all going to be able to get in and out and that, you know, we’re going to have full access to get emergency people in and out of here as well,” Irwin said.
There will be a town hall meeting at Graysville Elementary School on March 14th starting from 6:30 – 8:00.
Early voting is already underway.
Election day is March 19th.