The Hanson Spur is a planned 4.5-mile spur connecting raw material producers to the CSX Transportation (CSXT) rail line that runs along Ga. Highway 16 in Hancock County. The Hanson Spur will serve as a vital link to the North American transportation network for Hancock County and will help take Middle Georgia’s natural resources and agricultural products to new markets.
By connecting farmers and producers of raw materials in and around Sparta, GA to mainline railroads, the spur will help local businesses efficiently and cost-effectively support product needs nationwide. Locally mined granite and aggregate will be transported throughout the country to support building and maintaining roads. Locally grown agricultural products like grain will be shipped on the spur to food processors across the region, and locally sourced timber and wood products will be delivered to paper and packaging manufacturers. The Hanson Spur, along with the future expansion of the Hanson Quarry, will be the single largest private investment in Hancock County history, bringing more jobs, new opportunities and added tax revenue to the area. Most importantly, it will create a brighter future for local residents.
"Creating jobs in Middle Georgia: A new rail spur in Hancock County" from James Magazine
View the Pittman Construction Announcement: Link
View The Veal Farms and Revive Milling Announcement: Link
View the Southern Chips Announcement: Link
View the Proposed Route Map: PDF
View Sandersville Railroad's Commitment to Environmental Protection: PDF
Download the Frequently Asked Questions: PDF
Who is Pittman Construction and how will it use the spur?
Pittman Construction is Georgia’s trusted name for heavy highway construction. Since 1884, Pittman has served the state of Georgia as an award-winning prime contractor specializing in concrete construction, asphalt paving, erosion and traffic control services and more. Based in Conyers, GA., Pittman is led by Arnie Pittman, the fourth generation of his family to run the company.
Pittman Construction will use the spur to transport liquid asphalt, a non-hazardous, low-temperature, highly viscous to semi-solid ingredient in asphalt used to pave highways.
Who is Veal Farms Transload LLC and how will it use the spur?
Veal Farms Transload is the parent company for Veal Farms, LLC, a leading producer of grain for major poultry and agricultural processing companies, and Veal Farms Trucking, LLC., which delivers agricultural products from rail to end users and from producers to rail. Veal Farms Transload is the only certified organic transload facility registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Veal Farms will use the spur to move grain to poultry companies and raw agricultural products like wheat, corn and soybeans to food processors across the country.
Who is Revive Milling LLC and how will it use the spur?
Revive Milling purchases and processes grain from its raw state to food ingredients, and then sells and transports those refined ingredients to food producers. Revive Milling is the only facility in the State of Georgia certified by the Federal Drug Administration as a non-GMO and organic milling facility.
Revive Milling will use the spur to transport refined grain products like starches to food producers across the country.
Who is Southern Chips and how will it use the spur?
Southern Chips, LLC has been in operation since 2018 and provides quality hardwood and pine wood chips to pulp and paper mills. The chip mill specializes in rail-delivered chips to any location with rail service in the continental United States. Since the company's founding, the chip mill has been aggressively upgraded through capital expenditures to increase rail payloads, overall mill dependability, pulpwood storage capacity and chip quality.
Southern Chips will use the spur to transport paper-quality wood chips to mills throughout the southeastern United States and beyond for the manufacturing of paper and packaging materials.
Who is Heidelberg Aggregates and how will they use the spur?
In North America, Heidelberg Materials is a leading supplier of cement, aggregates, ready mixed concrete and asphalt with more than 450 locations and approximately 9,000 employees. Heidelberg’s Sparta Quarry, also known as the Hanson Quarry, produces aggregate – crushed rocks and minerals used in a variety of industries for a range of purposes including concrete, asphalt and other roadway materials.
The Heidelberg Materials Quarry on Shoals Road will use the spur to deliver its aggregate product more efficiently to customers outside the region in Georgia and along the eastern U.S. Heidelberg is also considering a multi-million-dollar expansion once the rail spur is complete that will create additional jobs and significant property tax revenue forHancock County.
Why is the Hanson Spur project necessary?
Hancock County has faced economic challenges for decades, and this project will greatly boost economic development and job creation in the county. The Hanson Spur will connect a granite aggregate quarry and several other users to an existing CSXTransportation rail line, offering new opportunities for responsible economic growth and job creation with minimal impacts on local residents and the environment.
The Hanson Spur is expected to yield over $1.5 million in annual economic benefit, supporting local schools and the city and county governments through increased property tax revenue. A planned expansion by the quarry – and growth from the additional users listed above – will boost economic development, taxes and job creation for the community.
What is the construction timeline for the Hanson Spur?
Construction for the Hanson Spur will take approximately 15 months, with the goal of starting construction in 2023 and being operational by the end of 2024.
How will trains help reduce truck traffic?
Freight railroads are, on average, 3-4 times more fuel efficient than trucks, and even more efficient in terms of volume carried.
How many jobs will this project bring to Hancock County?
The new spur will create 12 permanent jobs averaging $90,000 with salary and benefits. It will also take 20 construction jobs to complete the project. Job opportunities will be available for application through Indeed.com.
Where can I find out more about contracting opportunities on the Hanson Spur construction?
Please fill out the form below to stay up to date on contracting opportunities.
Will local residents be hired for this project?
Sandersville Railroad and Heidelberg want to hire as many qualified local residents as possible. Both companies also plan to engage with the Hancock County school system to develop a program to help connect students to high paying jobs in the aggregate and industrial facilities in the region.
How will Hanson and Sandersville Railroad invest in the local community?
Sandersville Railroad has always supported local communities in which it operates. As a new business in Hancock County, Sandersville Railroad anticipates supporting all schools in Hancock County and other local initiatives. Sandersville Railroad will support the local Chamber of Commerce and the Pine Tree Festival. Additionally, the increases in property taxes will support local schools, as well as the city and county government. As the spur begins operations, Sandersville Railroad will continue to evaluate opportunities to support a variety of causes in Hancock County.
How has Sandersville Railroad engaged with the community thus far?
Members of the Hancock County community were invited to an informational meeting on August 11, 2022, at the Hancock County Youth Center in Sparta, GA. Materials from the meeting included a Fact Sheet (PDF), Proposed Route Map (PDF) and Informational Slides (PDF).
Who will utilize the spur?
Currently, the spur’s users include Heidelberg Materials, Pittman Construction, Veal Farms Transload, Revive Millings and Southern Chips. It is the hope of Sandersville Railroad that additional users may utilize the spur to bring additional economic growth to Hancock County.
How many trips a day will the train take on this spur?
The train will operate one round trip daily between the CSXT Line and the Hanson Aggregates Quarry during normal business hours. The train will travel at a maximum of 20 miles per hour.
What hours will the train operate?
In order to maintain the highest standard of safety, the train will primarily operate within daylight hours.
What is the train speed and how long will it take to make the 4.5-mile trip?
It will take approximately 20 minutes to make the trip. The train will not exceed 20 miles per hour.
What will happen if there is an emergency vehicle that needs to cross Shoals Road while the train is across the road?
Any time the train is crossing Shoals Road, Sandersville Railroad will have an employee present who can disconnect the train cars and allow an emergency vehicle to pass. This process takes 45-90 seconds. Also, on every Crossbuck at a railroad crossing there will be a posted emergency contact phone number.
Why was the route chosen?
The route was selected to conform with railroad design standards, minimize impacts to wetlands and streams, avoid sensitive environmental areas near the upper Little Ogeechee River northeast of the planned route, and stay away from occupied residences. After surveying the land, the route is clearly the most efficient and least impactful route from the CSX rail line to Hanson.
Is the route finalized?
Yes, after making final adjustments based on community input and final surveys, the general route has been finalized.
How will you minimize noise on the route?
The train will only travel the spur one round trip per day. It will travel at less than 20 miles per hour, which will further reduce noise. In addition, the line is more than 1,000 feet away from the majority of homes on Shoals Road. Heidelberg has agreed to install 130-foot-wide, 20-foot-tall berms that will further minimize noise. The berms will be part of its EPD Mining Permit and will be built in conjunction with building a new plant. Given the wooded nature of the area, no visual impact is expected to residents along the spur aside from those closest to the new railroad grade crossing on Shoals Road, which will be in the vicinity of the current Hanson Quarry entrance .
The closest home off Maggie Reynolds Road will be more than 200 feet from the line. Even without planned sound mitigation, the sound of the train at 20 mph will only be that of a normal conversation, or approximately 70 decibels.
The noise of the train whistle is vital to protect the public at road crossings and the locomotives are subject to federal regulations governing the noise level they may emit. Noise monitoring tests are conducted on all SAN locomotives to ensure compliance with those regulations. The train whistle when measured at 25 feet from the tracks, was roughly 100 decibels, or roughly the same noise level as a hand drill. Ear pain caused by noise is felt at 125 dBA or higher. Brief exposure to the train whistle does not represent any risk to noise induced hearing loss to the public.
How will you minimize impacts on Maggie Reynolds Road?
First, SRR does not anticipate normal train traffic on this section of the spur; it will be used only for train car storage. When this section of track is used, noise levels at the closest home – approximately 200 feet from the tracks – will only be that of a normal conversation or approximately 70 decibels.
Can property owners whose land is split by rail reach the other part of their property?
Sandersville Railroad will install a crossing on each parcel to allow property owners to access all of their property.
Why can’t you move the route further north or northeast?
Building a railroad isn’t like building a road. Railroads have to be designed to include relatively flat grades and large curves to allow locomotives to operate. The route SRR selected avoids the headwaters of the Little Ogeechee River, is more than 1,000 feet from almost every home and travels primarily through pasture and timberland. Topographical changes, Georgia Power’s transmission lines and the Little Ogeechee prevent us from pushing further north or east; this includes a significant elevation drop near Two Mile Creek. In addition, moving the route farther north or east would increase the construction footprint and have a greater environmental impact.
Will my property be taken through eminent domain?
Sandersville Railroad has actively engaged the landowners along the proposed spur route to discuss property purchases. The spur will not require the taking of anyone’s home nor will it prevent anyone from using their pastures, hunting areas or timbering their property. While railroads qualify for eminent domain, Sandersville Railroad prefers to make every effort to directly negotiate property deals with landowners. Due to a lack of willingness to engage in negotiations from a few landowners, Sandersville Railroad is working through legal channels to utilize eminent domain via Georgia’s Public Service Commission, although it would prefer to acquire all property needed for the spur through negotiated purchases and sales. If Sandersville Railroad has to use eminent domain to acquire property, landowners will still be compensated at values determined by an independent, third-party appraiser.
Are you planning to buy the property or use easements?
Sandersville Railroad plans to purchase the property outright.
Who should I contact if I want to sell property to Sandersville Railroad?
Cheryl Brewer with CHB Acquisition Services, LLC. She can be contacted by calling (706)832-1412 or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you plan to protect the environment during this project?
Sandersville Railroad is required to meet Georgia EPD guidelines for land disturbing activities and waterways and flood plain crossings prior to commencing construction. The railroad does not anticipate any environmental issues or contamination. The route was selected to avoid sensitive environmental areas near the upper Ogeechee River northeast of the planned route, as well as minimizing grade changes. Sandersville Railroad’s engineering firm has engaged Corblu Ecology Group as a partner in the environmental considerations of this project.
Are there wetlands along the route?
There are some wetlands along the northern end of the route. Sandersville Railroad will follow local, state and federal laws to ensure that water quality and the environment are not harmed during construction or during operations of the HansonSpur. There are strict standards for construction in wetland areas that Sandersville Railroad is required to follow.
Will this affect the groundwater near my home?
Given the nature of theGeorgia Piedmont and the granite in the soil, Sandersville Railroad does not expect the rail expansion or quarry expansion to impact groundwater. Heidelberg is considering installation of monitoring wells between the quarry and homes along the border of the quarry as it expands to ensure there are no impacts.
Do trains cause pollution or are they harmful to your health?
Just like cars and trucks on the road, the Sandersville Railroad is subject to and compliant with EPA exhaust standards that govern locomotive emissions. These EPA regulations have specific limits for oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and smoke. Additionally, the spur will reduce the number of trucks on local roads which will reduce emissions. Trains are much more efficient, in terms of emissions, than trucks. If anything, the use of the trainwill reduce yearly pollutants in the area from transportation emissions.
I heard there was an endangered type of crayfish along the route.
There are no known endangered species on the selected route, including no endangered crayfish identified by either the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Future Quarry Plans
What is this expanded quarry proposal?
The Hanson Spur will allow the Heidelberg Materials Quarry on Shoals Road to deliver its aggregate (crushed rock) product more efficiently to customers outside the region in Georgia and throughout the Eastern U.S. Heidelberg is considering a multi-million-dollar expansion that will create additional jobs and significant property tax revenue for Hancock County. This expansion would eventually move the processing plant – the loudest part of its operation – away from its current location to a site further away from nearby residences. The potential new plant location will also be protected by several tree berms that will significantly reduce noise and provide a visual buffer.
Will there be increased blasting?
The quarry’s expansion plans have it expanding into areas further from residential areas, minimizing the impact of blasting increases that occur to accommodate sales volumes increase over the next several years. The current pit is being developed to the north and away from most of the homes in the area. Future pit development will happen after the potential new processing plant is constructed, moving operations further away from the majority of homes.