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Valleywood Road issue still unresolved

The longstanding question about the closure of the railroad crossing at Valleywood Road in Tyrone continued Thursday night. Representatives from Georgia Dept. of Transportation (GDOT) were on hand to review the project again and solicit community input. Residents were there, at least most of them, to voice their opposition to the closure. The Town Council is expected to make a final decision on the matter in the next 30-60 days.

Town manager Richard Newbern reviewed the three options associated with the proposed project. One option would close the crossing at Valleywood, relocate the crossing at East Crestwood and Senoia Road just to the north at West Crestwood and extend Park Drive southward from its intersection with Valleywood all the way to the Crestwood crossing.

Newbern indicated that the Valleywood closure was not a high priority for CSX Railroad.

A second option would be to close the Valleywood crossing and extend Park Drive to the existing East Crestwood crossing. The third option would be to take no action on the matter.

Residents clearly preferred the third option, citing increased traffic and a potential decrease in property values.                                                                                                     

The Town Council in October held a similar meeting and another in May last year. The town’s project estimate carries a price tag of $600,000 for its portion of the project. But current economic conditions led to the council to say last year that such an amount was simply too high, Instead, council members agreed to spend no more than $225,000 on the project. That sentiment was unchanged Thursday night.

As for the difference in the projected cost for the total project and what the town is willing to pay, GDOT can assist with utility relocation but cannot contribute any funds for things like right-of-way acquisition.

GDOT representative Mike Bolton said his department will re-evaluate the less expensive second option though it is not the preferred choice.

During the discussion council members Eric Dial and Tracy Young suggested that if the closure was important to CSX it might have sent a representative to discuss the issue with citizens and the council.

Mayor Don Rehwaldt said the City Council is expected to reach a decision on the issue in the next 30-60 days.

The issue of closing the Valleywood Road crossing came in 2007 and was initiated by the town after a double fatality at that location in 2001.

The town in 2007 signed a memorandum of understanding with CSX and DOT to close the Valleywood and East Crestwood crossings, construct a new signalized crossing at West Crestwood to facilitate a higher degree of safety and to extend Park Drive up to Valleywood.

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