Locust Grove is looking to construct a train viewing platform this summer. The estimated cost to build the platform is $125,000.
The City of Locust Grove is moving forward with its plans to construct a train viewing platform.
The Locust Grove city council executed the amended lease document earlier this month, said Locust Grove City Manager, Tim Young. Also this month, Northfolk Southern railroad gave its approval to build the platform.
City officials are scheduled to start construction on the estimated $125,000 platform in August.
“We will have it in place by Christmas,” said Locust Grove Mayor Robert Price. He said the city plans to use the funds from its hotel and motel tax to pay for the platform.
“It will cost us $4,500 for a permit to bring electricity under the railroad to the site,” said Price.
Fifty-five trains per day pass through Locust Grove, according to Linda Hutchison, Downtown Development Coordinator and Main Street Director. She and other city officials hope the new train platform will draw people to downtown.
“This will not be just the locals that watch trains,” said Hutchison. “This has become a national hobby. We are expecting people come eat, shop, and stay in Locust Grove. We are producing an economic engine, so to speak.
Jeff Mills, a member of the Locust Grove Downtown Development Authority said he can see the platform used for family outings.
“We had a train depot station,” said Mills. “It will be built near where the old train station was on [Georgia] Highway 42. We want to enhance the east side of our downtown with a pedestrian crossing.”
“We know people are interested in watching the trains here because they already come to film the trains,” said Otis Hammock, a Locust Grove City Councilman. “We have people that come and set up at the peach stand and downtown to watch the trains.” Others, she added, drive to downtown to watch trains from Mayor’s Walk Park.
“Some people use various land areas along the railroad, which can be a safety issue,” explained Hutchison. “Therefore, the platform would be a much safer place to the trains and add to the economic development for our downtown.”
The idea for the viewing platform came from the Downtown Development Authority in 2006, said Hutchison. One city where the practice already exists is Folkston, Ga., added Hammock, who also is a liaison for the development authority.
“When I heard they built a train platform, I went [to] Folkson, Ga., in Charlton County, to see it. They have two CSX train lines that merge there,” said Hammock.
Officials are working to keep the cost in constructing the train viewing platform to a minimum. A contract has been drawn up by Norfolk Southern, and an engineering company has been obtained for preliminary drawings.
“Fortunately, we have someone willing to donate the building material, and the Georgia Department of Correction will donate labor from the state to build it,” said Hammock. “They take the talent that they have within the system to build it. It’s relatively going to be a small cost for us.”