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Lawmaker takes action after train troubles cause 'traffic apocalypse' in Lilburn

Lilburn Police said they had a “traffic apocalypse” earlier this week when CSX closed multiple rail crossings for maintenance.

LILBURN, Ga. — On a Thursday afternoon, there was no traffic in sight on Main Street in Lilburn. That wasn’t the case earlier in the week. 

“I called it a traffic apocalypse,”  Lilburn Police Captain Scott Bennett said. 

Bumper-to-bumper traffic impacted drivers everywhere in town when CSX started track maintenance on railroad crossings across the city. Bennett said the city asked CSX to not close multiple rail crossings at once. Bennett said CSX didn't listen.

 “We did not receive any notification until just a matter of hours before the traffic apocalypse,” Bennett said.

Credit: LILBURN POLICE DEPT.

The Reveal is tracking growing complaints about trains in the state of Georgia. Our earlier investigation found they’re up more than 200 percent from 2020.

People are reporting trains will sit on the tracks and block traffic for hours or even days. It’s a problem State Rep. Jasmine Clark is trying to do something about.  

"I have introduced a bill to try to at least do a study committee about this,” Rep. Clark said.

RELATED: Train Troubles: Safety concerns grow as trains block traffic in Georgia

That study committee would bring rail companies and lawmakers together to try and come up with solutions.

“Trains really do have a lot of immunity from legislative action at the state level,” Clark said.  

Credit: WXIA

But the federal level is a different story, and she said Washington is watching.

“You say, y'all are investigating, Congress is as well,” she said.

It's not just because these traffic jams are an inconvenience. Bennett and Clark said these traffic backlogs put people’s safety in jeopardy.

“It impedes law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services,” Bennett said. “Flashing lights and a siren [don’t] automatically levitate cars out of your way.” 

Clark echoed a similar sentiment said stalled trains could make an emergency situation even worse.

I don't care who you are, no one wants to be in an emergency and the thing standing between that emergency vehicle getting to you and getting you to where you need to go is a train,” Clark said. 

CSX apologized for what it called an inconvenience to drivers in Lilburn. It provided this statement in response to The Reveal's report: 

“As part of a network-wide infrastructure maintenance program, CSX conducted repairs this week on grade crossings in Lilburn, Georgia. CSX strives to be a good neighbor in the communities where we operate and we apologize for any inconveniences that the crossing maintenance program may have caused to local drivers. CSX crews worked as quickly and as safely as possible to complete the repairs and reopen the grade crossings, which are important for safe rail operations. All five crossings – Rockbridge Road, Harmony Grove, Main Street, Arcado Road and Lester Road – are open.”  

The Reveal is an investigative show exposing inequality, injustice, and ineptitude created by people in power throughout Georgia and across the country 

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