Detours Studied for Downtown Train Traffic
By Tom Palmer, THE LEDGER
LAKELAND | If there’s a better way to route freight rail traffic through Polk County, a consultant hired by the Florida Department of Transportation is supposed to find it.
Preliminary work is under way on an 18-month study to look for alternative routes for rail traffic.
The $2.8 million DOT study was launched in response to concerns by Lakeland downtown business interests about the possible effects of more train traffic in connection with the opening of the new CSX rail terminal in Winter Haven in 2014.
Concerns range from noise and vibration to traffic safety.
Sixteen trains a day run through downtown Lakeland today.
After the CSX facility opens, the number will increase to 20, said Brian Bollas, the project’s spokesman.
The study by consulting firm CH2M Hill will undertake follows a $723,398 initial study by Jacobs Engineering completed in 2009 that listed some possible alternative routes that would cost between $638 million and $1.3 billion, to implement.
Members of Polk County Transportation Planning Organization’s Citizens Advisory Committee meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Bartow.
The public can view the meeting at http://www.polk-county.net/icast.aspx.
Alternatives listed in the 2009 report included rerouting rail traffic through Plant City, Mulberry and Bartow or resuming service on an abandoned railroad line that has been converted to a network of recreational trails through the Green Swamp in Polk, Lake and Sumter counties and through Auburndale and Winter Haven.