Lilburn leaders explain ‘traffic apocalypse’

Lilburn says a recent “traffic apocalypse” could have been avoided.

Due to poor communication from a railroad company, Lilburn experienced a major traffic jam, the city said in a Tuesday press release. While the city knew CSX would be working on tracks in the downtown area, they were not given a specific date for repairs until March 14, the day the project started, an announcement said.

CSX was performing “routine maintenance,” but the traffic fiasco lasted all day. CSX closed railroad crossings at Lester Road, Main Street, Rockbridge Road, Arcado Road, and Harmony Grove Road, according to the Lilburn Police Department’s Facebook page.

“Yesterday, we had an 83-year-old woman call us, in tears, because she was afraid she was going to get lost in the detours,” Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said. “Her strife, and the frustrations of so many others, could have been avoided had there been more cooperation and partnership with the railroad.”

Hedley said he had recommended that CSX stagger repairs to each rail line to help avoid the traffic jams. He received no response to his suggestion before Monday’s epic jam, the announcement said.

The rail company responded to the city’s allegation of poor communication.

“CSX strives to be a good neighbor in the communities where we operate,” CSX Media Relations Manager Sheriee S. Bowman said in an email to Lilburn. “We apologize to the City of Lilburn for any inconveniences caused to motorists as a result of our crossing maintenance program.”

Several people shared their frustrations about the traffic jam on social media, and are asking for Lilburn to make sure this never happens again.

Nicole Cannata, who lives near the tracks, was frustrated by the traffic delays but was mainly concerned about public safety.

“I mean, I can only imagine what it’s like to be, you know, a fireman on one side of the tracks and a fire on the other. And the only option then is to drive eight miles around in a circle,” Cannata told the AJC.