PROJECT INFORMATION

Hanson Spur

Overview

As construction and infrastructure improvement demands rise across the Southeast, specifically in the coastal region, Sandersville Railroad is stepping in to help the Hanson quarry in Hancock County increase output. A new 4.5-mile spur connecting the CSX rail line that runs along Ga. Highway 16 in Hancock County to the Hanson quarry off of Shoals Road will allow Hanson to ship approximately 500,000 additional tons per year from the quarry.

Community Meeting

Members of the Hancock County community attended an informational meeting on August 11, 2022 at the Hancock County Youth Center in Sparta, GA. Materials from the meeting are available below.

View Fact Sheet: PDF
View Proposed Route Map: PDF
View Informational Slides: PDF
View FAQs: PDF

preliminary rail map overview

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Why is this project necessary?
The Hanson Spur will allow the Hanson Aggregates Quarry on Shoals Road to deliver its aggregate (crushed rock) product more efficiently to customers outside the region in Georgia and along the eastern U.S. The rail spur and expansion will create 12 new jobs paying $90,000 per year in salary and benefits on average, as well as millions of dollars in annual economic impact to the community. Hanson is also considering a multi-million-dollar expansion once the rail spur is complete that will create additional jobs and significant property tax revenue for Hancock County. This expansion would begin in 2025.

Where will the new plant be located?
If completed, the new plant will be hundreds of feet northwest of the current site, further away from the residents of Shoals Road and other nearby roads.

What is the construction timeline for the Hanson Spur?
Construction for the Hanson Spur will take approximately 15 months, starting in 2023.

What is the projected economic impact of the spur?
The spur line will create $1.5 million in annual direct economic impact to Hancock County.

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.

Where can I find out more about job opportunities at the Sandersville Railroad?
Please apply through Indeed.com

Where can I find out more about contracting opportunities on the Hanson Spur construction?
Please fill out the below form to stay up-to-date on contracting opportunities.

Contracting Opportunities
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Will local residents be hired for this project?
We want to hire as many qualified local residents as possible. Hanson and Sandersville Railroad also plan to engage with the Hancock County school system to develop a program to support the aggregate and industrial facilities in the region to help connect students to high paying jobs.

How will Hanson and Sandersville Railroad invest in the local community?
Sandersville Railroad has always supported local communities in which they operate. As a new business in Hancock County, we anticipate supporting all schools in Hancock County and other local initiatives. We will support the local Chamber of Commerce and the Pine Tree Festival. Additionally, the increases in sales and property taxes will support the schools, city and county government. As the spur begins operations, we will continue to evaluate opportunities to support a variety of causes in Hancock County.

Rail Operations

How many trips a day will the train take on this spur?
The train will operate one round trip daily between the CSX 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.

Route Questions

Why was this 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 Ogeechee River northeast of the planned route, and to stay away from occupied residences. After surveying the land, this proposed route is the most efficient and least impactful route from the CSX rail line to Hanson.

Is the route finalized?
We are making any final adjustments based on community input and final surveys, but the general route is set by topography and environmental conditions.

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 nearest homes on Clayton Road. Hanson 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 Aggregates 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, we do not anticipate normal train traffic on this section of track; it will be used only for train car storage. But we are looking at a potential berm or lowering the elevation adjacent to Maggie Reynolds Road to minimize visual and noise impacts on residents. Even without those measures, noise levels at the closest home at 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 we 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 and the Little Ogeechee prevent us from pushing further east; this includes a significant elevation drop near Two Mile Creek. Moving the line farther north or east would increase the construction footprint and have a greater environmental impact.

Quarry Plans

What is this new quarry proposal? When will the proposed berms be built?
The spur project will allow Hanson to expand its quarry starting in 2025, eventually moving the processing plant from its current location to a site further away from existing neighbors. 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.

Will vibrations from the quarry or train create cracks in my foundation or damage my home?
Sandersville Railroad trains will operate slowly and will be far enough from all homes that no vibrations will be significant enough to cause damage. All blasting in the State of Georgia falls under the State Fire Marshal Office that utilizes the US Bureau of Mines RI8485 standards for vibration and air blast limits.  Hanson utilizes a third-party blasting engineering company that uses the most up-to-date technology to control both ground vibration and airblasts. Upper management reviews the third party’s plans to ensure blasting remains under Hanson’s internal limits which are well under the US Bureau of Mines standards. All blasting records are provided to the State Fire Marshal monthly and can be requested through that office.  

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. Using rail to serve the planned expansion will remove nearly 150 truck loads per day off Hancock County roads. 

Property Acquisition

Will my property be taken through eminent domain?
Sandersville Railroad has actively engaged the landowners along the proposed spur route to discuss property purchases. While railroads qualify for eminent domain, we prefer to make every effort to directly negotiate property deals with landowners. Even in extreme cases where the power of eminent domain is used, all landowners are protected by law to receive just and adequate compensation for their land.

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 cherylbrewer@bellsouth.net.

Environmental Questions

How do you plan to protect the environment during this project?
We are required to meet Georgia EPD guidelines for land disturbing activities and waterways and flood plain crossings prior to commencing construction. We do 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. Our 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. We will follow local, state and federal laws to ensure that water quality is not harmed during construction or during operations of the line. There are strict standards for construction in wetland areas that we are required to follow.

Will this affect the groundwater near my home?
Given the nature of the Georgia Piedmont and the granite in the soil, we do not expect the rail expansion or quarry expansion to impact groundwater. Hanson 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.

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.

aerial photo of rail line

Additional Questions About the Project?

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