West Atlanta train blockages cause traffic jams, safety concerns

Trains sit in one area on the west side of Atlanta for hours on end.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Andre’a Swain may be retired but lately the 66-year-old’s spends his free time, sometimes hours on end, directing traffic where he lives.

Neighbors captured him in action last week when a CSX train stopped right in the middle of Chapell Road Northwest between Ezra Church and Bernard Street in Atlanta’s historic Hunter Hills neighborhood.

“I hear the train going by but when you hear that clack, clack, clack, that ain’t good,” said Swain.

Timothy Brown, who lives right down the road, tells us the inevitable traffic jam is a major inconvenience.

But it’s also a safety concern.

“Really just the emergency access for police, fire trucks, ambulances, especially for the elderly,” Brown said. “The blockages can last up to 24 hours and there’s been a couple cases where it lasted three days.”

Neighbors say the train blockages also happen at Fairfield Place Northwest in the Dixie Hills neighborhood and at Murphy Avenue in the Adair Park neighborhood.

The Georgia Department of Transportation says they can’t do anything about the issue because its out of their jurisdiction and that it’s up to individual train companies.

“CSX in general has showed good faith attempts but we’re still not seeing results. So that’s the issue, we’re still not seeing results,” said Brown.

Atlanta News First reached out to freight rail company, CSX.

The company sent us this statement:

“At CSX, safety is our highest priority and we strive to be a good neighbor in the communities where our trains operate. We understand that it can be frustrating when trains block road crossings and we work hard to prevent that from happening whenever possible. We apologize for any inconveniences our trains may have caused the Hunter Hills community. There are times when mechanical and operational issues could result in blocked crossings, as well as when trains stop for mandatory safety inspections, federally-regulated crew changes or when entering and exiting busy rail yards. We make every effort to minimize blocked crossings and address recurring issues. Our goal is to, safely and efficiently, transport freight and we appreciate the patience of motorists and pedestrians waiting for our trains to pass safely through the area as we serve customers throughout Georgia. Our operations team is committed to reducing occurrences that affect drivers or normal traffic flow.”