In the latest Gainesville Sun you can find a telling comment or two:
The $491 million project, which would add commuter trains to a 61.5-mile stretch of CSX rail line in the Orlando area, would route roughly eight or nine freight trains per day from that rail line onto the CSX line that cuts through Hawthorne, Waldo and other parts of eastern Alachua County, said Fred Wise, manager of the FDOT’s Rail Office. To help accommodate the expected increase in train delays, the FDOT is planning to build an overpass on SR 26 near Orange Heights sometime in 2010, when the increased freight traffic is expected, Wise said. Gaineseville.com
“Eight or nine trains” per day. If Lakeland is getting only “four or five” then could someone show me where the other four or five are getting off the line? I’m serious. I’m sure there’s a spot on that winding rail map I missed.
The FDOT is building an overpass on SR 26. Orange Heights has a population of, well, you know I can’t find population figures for Orange Heights. Look up the numbers and you’re usually referred to nearby Hawthorne with a population of 1415. Looking at a Google map of Orange Heights only shows about five or six streets.
I’m sure Orange Heights is a great town, but what kind of traffic do they have on SR 26 to warrant an overpass?
Wise continued his work to help the citizens affected by the increase in traffic:
Wise said FDOT employees also have met with officials in Starke to improve signals at rail crossings and make other safety-related changes.
“The goal is to mitigate the impacts of this to make sure there’s a smooth transition to the increase in freight traffic,” Wise said. — Gaineseville.com
Stake Florida, population 5,769, will have a “smooth transition to the increase in freight traffic.”
I am sure all the citizens of Lakeland, Florida, population 89,108, can applaud the FDOT for ensuring the continued vitality of our smaller cities.
While doing a little research on Orange Heights, I found an interesting paragraph:
Initial construction was not easy because not everyone wanted the railroads. Mrs. Laughinhouse-Stephens told how some settlers met the railroad track layers with shotguns. Her father, who was the railroad track foreman in charge of getting the tracks through the towns, said that the law was if the tracks were laid and the trains passed over them, then the tracks were secure and could not be taken out again. The crews often finished laying track during the night; the train ran early in the morning, and the land owners woke to find the deed done. — Hawthorne Florida History
I will offer no additional comment to that.