The Flowery Branch City Council voted Thursday night to close the railroad crossing of Chattahoochee Street in the city's downtown area.
The decision comes as part of a plan by the city to stop southbound trains from stopping and blocking all of the crossings in downtown. City officials say they've worked with Norfolk Southern Railway officials, who have offered to install a "lunar light" just north of the city's Spring Street crossing that would signal for southbound trains to stop prior to reaching downtown.
Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said the city needed to close one of the downtown crossings to allow that light to be installed and traffic studies showed that Chattahoochee Street was the best option. He said the crossing should be closed before the end of 2018.
"Norfolk Southern has indicated it would take them about four or five days to affect that closing," Andrew said. "They're wanting to try to employ the funds before the end of the calendar year."
Andrew said that the lunar light would likely be installed around the same time that the crossing is closed. He told the city council that officials are looking at other potential traffic changes in the downtown area, including altering speed limits on several roads and making Railroad Avenue a one-way northbound road from Lights Ferry Road to Main Street.
City Councilman Joe Anglin said that one potential problem with holding the southbound trains just north of the downtown crossings is that they could create more consistent blockage of the nearby crossing at Radford Road just outside the city. Andrew said that while that is likely, he feels that the new I-985 exit that is currently under construction at Martin Road and H.F. Reed Industrial Boulevard could create a good alternate for drivers looking to get from McEver Road to Atlanta Highway.
No one spoke against the closing of the Chattahoochee Street crossing at Thursday's meeting and the council approved the closure unanimously.