Special to the Journal
Quitman – Surface improvements completed at the railroad crossing on U.S. 84 in Quitman will result in a smoother ride for motorists, the Georgia Department of Transportation said.
Timber guards that run parallel to the rails deteriorate over time, which creates gaps in the surface. The timber guards were replaced by precast concrete panels that are smoother and more durable. GDOT put down new asphalt to tie the concrete panels to the existing roadway to further improve the quality of the crossing. GDOT closed the crossing Dec. 9 and reopened it Dec. 12.
Quitman Mayor Curtis L. Pickels said his office received frequent complaints from drivers because the old crossing was so rough. It was so bad that even non-local drivers complained.
“I literally had people calling me who were from out of town and visiting family in Valdosta. They said they dreaded coming through Quitman because of the railroad crossing. I told them we were working diligently to get the railroad and DOT together to get it fixed,” Pickels said.
Driving over the crossing was especially bad for anyone pulling farm equipment, he said.
Pickels recently drove over the reopened crossing for the first time.
“It was fabulous, it really was, and they really did a superb job with it. It’s a real asset to the community,” he said.
Rail companies, by law, are responsible for the maintenance of crossings. Under a cost sharing agreement, GDOT reimburses rail companies for the cost of the panels. Labor and other associated costs are paid by the rail companies. The cost of the panels for the Quitman crossing is estimated to be $33,000. Georgia & Florida Railway Inc. owns the property in Quitman.