Garden City residents, business owners frustrated over train trouble

Residents and business owners say CSX officials have been indifferent to community concerns (Credit: Robert Catanese)

Garden City residents and business owners are frustrated over Jacksonville based CSX Corp. trains essentially shutting down roadways.

Three of the major intersections include Priscilla D. Thomas Way, Big Hill Road and Telfair Place.

Garden Mayor Don Bethune says this has been on the city’s radar for a while.

“I have reached out to CSX and have been trying for basically three months to get them to come down to have a meeting,” said Bethune.

Fox 28 obtained the initial statement from CSX Corp. addressing the company’s trains blocking traffic. Rob Doolittle is the spokesperson for CSX who released this stating.

“CSX strives to be a good neighbor in communities where we operate. While we work to serve the growing Port of Savannah as efficiently as possible, we understand the challenges that exist there and we continue working to minimize the impact of our operations in that area. We are also keeping an open line of communication with local leaders and businesses, and using their feedback to improve our operating plan,” said Doolittle.

But, for Mayor Bethune, that statement is not enough.

“It's gotten way out of hand. We need to try and do something about this. I have had a number of contacts with business owners on Telfair; it's impacting their businesses,” said Bethune.

Fox 28 requested an on camera interview with CSX but they declined and spokesperson Laura Phelps offered this saying, “Thanks for giving us the opportunity to provide more information for your story but we have nothing to add to our original statement,” said Phelps.

Angela and Terry Durrence own PowerTrain Inc. on Telfair Road.

They say the crossing just in front of their business is blocked more often than it is open.

“This train will be blocked up all the way down Telfair Road and Telfair Place,” said Angela.

The Durrences’ have been dealing with this issue since May of this year, emailing CSX official Craig Camuso more than 14 different times alerting him of stalled or slow moving trains.

Then Angela said this happened: “He asked me not email him anymore but to call a number which I have called the number, I have called the emergency number out there, I've been told that the railroad being stopped because of the train having its brakes checked is not an emergency."

She and Terry were then referred to another CSX official.

Terry and Angela are like so many residents and business owners searching for answers.

“It's just not fair. They shouldn't have the right and all this power to keep the road blocked all the time like they are doing, they just have to do it a different way,” said Terry.

Some residents, when calling the CSX number to report a train issue, have been told by CSX officials that they should “move.” One of those residents is Gary Monroe.

“A resolution cannot be for the citizens to move. That cannot be a resolution for a conglomerate of such to say to the residents or their neighborly friends well just move or relocate,” said Monroe.

FOX 28 asked CSX spokesperson Laura Phelps to respond to company representatives telling residents to move. She released a statement which reads, “CSX strives to be a good neighbor in the communities where we operate which includes treating community members, customers and fellow employees with courtesy and respect."

Mayor Don Bethune has gone on record saying his staff will be meeting with CSX officials this week and would provide updated information to residents and business owners at the Nov. 20 council meeting.

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