How Would You Solve the Truck-Railroad Issue at Holcomb Bridge?

Speak Out: What do you think is the best option to stop tractor-trailers from getting stuck on the steep road in downtown Norcross?

Despite the numerous “no trucks allowed” signs on Holcomb Bridge Road before the railroad tracks, the warnings still get ignored and trucks still get stuck.

This year alone, there have been at least three different incidents at the downtown intersection.

The incidents are a headache, to say the least. It causes heavy congestion on the high-traffic road, and it takes some time for the trucks to be lifted off the tracks. Additionally, the tractor-trailers are heavily fined.

At the August policy work session for the Norcross City Council, Mayor Bucky Johnson addressed the issue during the meeting’s general discussion. At the September session, the issue was officially on the agenda.

A few solutions were tossed around the council. A gateway sign could be installed to give a visual height requirement for trucks, or the city could add a raised splitter island on the northwest leg of Holcomb Bridge at South Peachtree Street and a bulbout on the southeast leg of the intersection. There was even talk about closing that portion of the road altogether.  

It’s also been talked in the past in the city’s new LCI Study on how best to improve the walkability connecting North Peachtree and South Peachtree, which was included in documents in the policy work session item. Possibilities of raising the elevation and relocating the crossing further southwest were included in the documents.

While the issue still is being researched and the solution is being debate among the council, Patch wants to know: What do you think is the best option for the tractor-trailer problem on the railroad tracks at Holcomb Bridge Road?

Have you ever had any issues with traffic when the trucks get stuck? Tell us the comments.

Ruthy Lachman Paul September 28, 2012 at 11:29 AM
"There was even talk about closing that portion of the road altogether." Just do it! it may work.
susan swiderski September 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM
In the trucking world, time is money, so it stands to reason that truckers continue to use that crossing because it's a shortcut, which saves them time, and thus, is worth the risk of getting caught. But money is also money, and the only way to make them avoid that crossing is to hit them in the wallet, and hit them hard. I'd propose that instead of a generic "No trucks" sign, a sign should indicate the amount of fine that will be imposed for using that crossing, and how much will be imposed if a truck gets stuck on the tracks. Those fines should be high enough to get the attention of truckers, and they should be strongly enforced.
BP September 28, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I would send Norfolk Railroad a letter that they were creating a public hazard and had 30 days to lower their tracks a couple of feet (the fix) or face a $50,000 a day fine. Of course I haven't been bought with political bribes disguised as contributions like most of the state lawmakers who put blame on the people caught in the trap that actually pay road taxes.
BP September 28, 2012 at 01:40 PM
NS GA GWINNETT NORCROSS HOLCOMBE BRIDG 75 0.067566 717853U 0 0 1 0 0 GT 29 1 79 YES 2 12,210 The 12,210 vehicles a day owners using the crossing like send you the bill for wasted time and fuel consumption?
Ruthy Lachman Paul September 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
BP You can send the bill to the one that suggest it. and look or you are lawyer or you have one on your pocket :-) you love to threaten but I am not sure about the doing. I hope you sand the letter and have them fix it.
lee kellogg September 28, 2012 at 03:03 PM
The truck issue is important and N&S should be a big financial part of the solution. I am surprised that more emphasis isn't being placed on the people that live, walk, and vote, in that area and in Norcross in general. Why isn't there a safe way to cross the tracks at that crossing and at Thrasher? That crossing should be closed and Holcomb Bridge made safe for pedestrians and off limits to trucks. It should be easy for pedestrians to get around downtown. Not life threatening. And why isn't there always some kind of traffic control at Holcomb Bridge at the rush hours? That's easily the most dangerous intersection in town and most to the traffic is not local.
BP September 28, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Yep if you close the crossing it should definitely be made off limits to trucks one would think. The 12,210 vehicles a day owners using the crossing like send you and Ruthy the bill for wasted time and fuel consumption then? Do the trains like magically float over the road crossings where these vehicles are funneled to? Let's see NS financial responsibility if the crossing is closed. The RR makes/saves $3,000 to $5,000 a year on signal maintenance. The $200,000 worth of gates,lights,equipment shed, electronics we paid for ---WE pay NS to steal ---The RR buffs the exposed equipment out and WE buy our stolen goods back for another crossing. Brilliant.
Gary Teague September 28, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Depending on whether sanitation, construction, utilities, or large emergency (fire department) vehicles must have access, we might consider putting up a maximum height bar across HBR on both sides of the railroad tracks. (Similar to the one's you see at underground parking decks.)
Neva Spell September 28, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Wait, wait, wait . . .please think this through. I can't see raising or lowering the road at that intersection. I can however, see a higher fine implemented to any over-sized vehicle. Plus, the Railroad is the owner of the lines. It will be their final decision, but, maybe the City of Norcross should address it, as they always should do. Can anybody tell us just how many oversized vehicles are caught on that track? And, what about the trucks that still travel through the city that are oversized and don't even cross those tracks? They need to be controlled also. CHEERS:-}
lee kellogg September 28, 2012 at 06:07 PM
BP, if you know the details of N&S financial relationship with the city, or lack of, it would help if you made it clear. At the least, there should be some kind of traffic control on Holcomb Bridge and Thrasher twice a day. Families in those areas shouldn't have to fight their way across the tracks.
David B. Manley September 29, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Perhaps Susan's idea of fine notification signs can be combined with Gary's, below. As an aside, for maximum deterrence, I think there should be one very high fine not conditioned on getting stuck (otherwise the truckers may take a chance).
David B. Manley September 29, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Although I would like to hear from a traffic engineer regarding all possible solutions, the road closing seconded by Ms. Paul should not be dismissed out of hand. It may lower the traffic volume cutting through to Buford Highway and the remaining traffic headed that way may be spread out, using Thrasher St./Jones St./Lawrenceville St, Thrasher St./S. Peachtree St./Norcross Tucker Rd., and other avenues. Also, I understand that a program may still be in effect where the GA DOT, with a match from the railroad, can provide a monetary cash incentive of up to $7500 to Norcross for closure of the crossing.
David B. Manley September 29, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Let's get real. There is no legal requirement that Norfolk Southern or other railroad change the right-of-way that it owns in a case such as this. The hazard is caused by 1) the elevation of the road as it crosses the tracks, and 2) the failure of truckers to obey the law. Further, "lowering their tracks a couple of feet" is not as simple as it may appear. First, the track probably would have to be lowered more than "a couple of feet" and, second, trains, unlike trucks and cars, are extremely sensitive to changes in track elevation - lowering tracks even "a couple of feet" would create the need to change the track grade incrementally over an extensive distance to and from the target grade change; even then, locomotive requirements for trains using the track with the grade change might also have to increase at great additional cost. We should keep in mind that railroads were built prior to roads for cars and trucks (the industry was initiated in 1830, long before the development of motor vehicles) and while our roads are paid for by us taxpayers, the railroads' track and maintenance are paid for by the railroads themselves. If change in elevation is the suggestion, all things considered, the logical move would be to lower Holcomb Bridge / S. Cemetery to run under the track as other municipalities have done. However, any change in elevation of the track or the roadway probably is presently cost prohibitive without federal or other funding.
David B. Manley September 29, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Gary's idea seems worth looking into. Of course, it would have to be set to allow emergency vehicles, etc. to enter while stopping higher trucks, should be placed so trucks can turn off HBR or S. Cemetery St. before getting to the bar if they ignore the previous height limit signs, it should be substantial enough to damage the violating trucks with minimal damage to the bar (the fine for violations could be used to repair damage to the bar), and perhaps the bar could be constructed as an attractive gateway.
David B. Manley September 29, 2012 at 04:13 AM
I would be interested in more information on the "stolen goods" and how Norfolk Southern will perpetrate this theft. Even if a railroad took possession of unused equipment, it could only charge for refurbishing and reinstallation. Railroads do not make decisions about crossing signal installation and spending, your government does. Crossing signals are defined as highway control devices, possibly because trains have the right of way and signals are primarily for protection of those in motor vehicles rather than multi-ton trains (if you've seen what remains after a locomotive hits a motor vehicle, you should agree). Crossing signal installations and upgrades are primarily funded by federal safety funds, originally through "Section 130 funding," but more recently under other titles, the states receiving this tax money each year and deciding how it is spent. If the state won't provide a requested signal, a city or other entity is not precluded from negotiating directly with the corresponding railroad to have train-activated warning devices installed at a particular crossing provided the requesting entity and/or the railroad are willing to fund the installation. Although grade crossing signals are primarily for the benefit of the motoring public, under federal guidelines the railroad is responsible for monthly and annual inspections and the general maintenance of crossing signals with the cost divided between the railroad and the agency with jurisdiction over the road.
BP September 29, 2012 at 06:46 AM
The railroads have the state RR safety on a leash leading them around showing how to waste the most of OUR funds in the smallest area possible to maximize the railroads profits. The RR we give all the lawmakers bribes described as political contributions thing. Someone could donate enough signals/gates to have signals at every crossing and the railroad would file suit because they make/save too much money on signal maintenance where the signals don't exist. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/notices/n4510743t1.htm $8,024,372 plus 10% state match. What all you want to know about the "stolen goods"? Just do a Freedom of Information to the state for all projects where our signals go off closed reworked crossings. http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div5&view=text&node=23: (3) The State and FHWA shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to inspect materials recovered by the railroad prior to disposal by sale or scrap. This requirement will be satisfied by the railroad giving written notice, or oral notice with prompt written confirmation, to the State of the time and place where the materials will be available for inspection. The giving of notice is the responsibility of the railroad, and it may be held accountable for full value of materials disposed of without notice.
BP September 29, 2012 at 09:06 AM
David Manley just how much you want to know about the "stolen goods? Looks to me like around $4 million magically disappears from the Federal funds and the state isn't matching their 10% as required by the law before the year starts. Then search RRX in the state transportation plan --- take the crossing numbers given (6 numbers with a letter at the end) ---then you have to go to Federal data to see where it's at and see just how many of these projects already had the proper signals ---if their old---that's the railroads baby to rock. http://www.dot.ga.gov/informationcenter/programs/transportation/documents/stip/fy_2011-14_stip.pdf LUMP SUM RRX PROTECTION DEVICE FOR FY 2011 Federal $4,212,795 State -0- http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/notices/n4510743t1.htm $8,024,372 plus 10% state match.
BP September 29, 2012 at 09:12 AM
If your talking live traffic control guards ---yeah why not. The railroad also needs video monitors of the 79 mph crossing to see if the crossing is compromised a couple minutes before the train arrives. Closing the crossing actually makes it more dangerous without walking surface and train horns because it's human nature for pedestrians to take the shortest route.
BP September 29, 2012 at 09:24 AM
....is presently cost prohibitive without federal or other funding....So where ya think these millions times $ 74.76 comes from Davie? Seems like the rediculous RR freight/ fuel sur-overcharges is already costing us big time on all products. What a 100 car freight train is equal to like 600 tractor trailers crossing our road without road taxes??? http://www.secform4.com/filings/702165/000070216512000129.htm
David B. Manley October 01, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Although it is difficult to decipher your arguments BPee, you apparently have an agenda when it comes to railroads with an animus that includes the anti-free-market / socialist concepts espoused by liberal Senator Al Franken.
David B. Manley October 01, 2012 at 01:17 AM
The SEC Form 4 you reference, BPee, reports an option to buy stock at $22.02 a share given to the NS president, chairman and CEO Charles Moorman in 2004 as part of an incentive compensation package, which option he exercised almost nine years later this past August when the stock rose to its highest ever $74.76 price per share (Friday's closing price was $63.63). The option rewarded Mr. Moorman for leading a profitable multibillion dollar company as reflected in the increase of its share price over the years. In our country we usually applaud companies who perform well, not use such performance as a basis to make them do things they are not legally required to do, like raising the track grade around Norcross or lowering the roadway. Railroads pay property taxes and federal and state income taxes including on stock dividends, then their shareholders pay tax again on the same dividends and pay capital gains tax on sales of railroad stock. Railroads employ around 227,000 citizens who pay state and federal taxes and for whom the railroads pay additional employment taxes. Whatever point you are trying to make concerning the "$74.76" misses the mark, BPee.
David B. Manley October 01, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Railroad freight rates, including fuel surcharges, are part of our free-market economy that you appear to dislike, BPee. Companies providing trucks and other modes of transportation charge for their services, also. Railroads compete with trucks, airfreight, barges and ships for transportation customers. Those customers are free to use whatever transportation mode they find most convenient and cost effective. As an aside, compared to trucks, freight trains use much less fuel per ton of freight moved, are less polluting, do not wear down and degrade roads and other vehicle infrastructure, have fewer accidents, and cause less traffic congestion. Railroads do not use our roads. Rather, vehicles impact the railways they cross over. While trucking companies pay taxes for road and other infrastructure use, they do not come close to compensating for damage done. On the other hand, railroads pay for their own tracks, bridges, other infrastructure, and maintenance of all of it without taxpayer assistance.
David B. Manley October 01, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Now the railroads are not only the sole enemy, they also are in cahoots with the government, if not controlling it. I do not have a tin hat, so am having trouble ferreting out this conspiracy. The freight railroads would probably find the concept amusing since the federal government placed them on the brink of, and many actually in, bankruptcy with overregulation including as to rates they could charge. Perhaps it's time to BPee elsewhere as the comment thread for this article has become saturated with off topic comments.
BP October 01, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Yep --Every politician get's a big political bribe from the RRs---win or lose---the railroads don't care. Being a railroad foamer you should know take the total train miles ---the 50% per carload fuel charge ---the $20 a mile to run the train per their financials which is millions in fraud right there. One gentlemen had a whistle blower case for millions and millions on crossing safety funds ripped off by the railroads.which the DOJ buried under the rug. That's not counting what we pay to raise roads so the pooor railroad can double stack the rail cars. The new whistle free zones actually setting up crew-less GPS trains. Major thefts on the so-called upgrades for Amtrak ---You need more? Looking at this crossing on Google map ---looks like a mickey mouse asphalt patch after the tracks were raised via heavier track. Did NS buy permits to raise the road? Does NS not have two stakes and a piece of string to make the crossing surface level per government law? Whoops
Tim Suggs February 11, 2013 at 06:51 PM
I think an underground diverging diamond makes the most sense and would be the most cost effective .


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