Columbia, South Carolina (WLTX) -- Sometimes you don't need a watch or your phone to tell you what time it is when you're in downtown Columbia. Usually the trains' horns are a good indication as to what time it is. The trains cause frustration and congestion in the capital city. But local leaders are taking a closer look at the issue.
Trains cross the tracks along South Assembly Street multiple times a day, and most people know ways to avoid getting tangled in the mess, but they can't avoid it entirely.
"It seems like I get stuck behind these trains all the time. They take too long. I am late for something and the fact that I can't see the end of it is making me more frustrated," said Jaylene Braxton.
The trains are also an inconvenience to businesses along the tracks, including Papa John's and Wing Zone.
"It can slow down our delivery routes pretty significantly when they come around," said Clay Outen, a delivery driver for Wing Zone.
Columbia City Council members understand the annoyance, so they approved funding to look at different solutions. It's part of a $2 million study of the rail lines, which is being led by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
Councilman Howard Duvall said there are two possible options: put the tracks underground or create a bridge. And people in Columbia say they are on board with the study.
"Twenty years ago, this was somewhat an underdeveloped area, so it wasn't a big deal to have the trains come through. Now, it's getting more developed, so I think it would be worth the money to look into alleviating the traffic," said Outen.
Councilman Duvall said he wants to establish 'quiet zones', which are areas in which trains would not be allowed to blow their whistles, except in emergency situations.
This won't be an easy fix and there is a huge hurdle to these options: money. But there is a lot of interest to see this project move forward. There is possibility the costs of redesigning the train tracks could be too expensive, but the city is still trying to get funds together and conduct the study.
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