Locust Grove's new training viewing platform adds beauty to the downtown and a safe, comfortable place to enjoy watching trains.
The city of Locust Grove has a new amenity that is attracting visitors to its downtown. The city recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new train viewing platform—a years-long vision that became a reality.
“Several years ago the Locust Grove Downtown Development Authority had a vision to create a space that would provide train aficionados as well as local residents a safe place to watch over 50 trains pass along the Norfolk Southern Railroad line within our historic town center,” explained Locust Grove Main Street Manager Mallory Rich. “While the original vision was of a very basic structure, with widespread interest in the project and the availability of donated materials and labor, this vision turned into something larger.”
A generous Locust Grove resident donated the lumber for the structure and the construction labor costs were minimal because the city used the Department of Corrections (DOC).
“All of the funds used to build the actual structure came from Hotel/Motel Tax Collections, meaning that the Locust Grove residents did not pay for the platform, but rather visitors staying in the hotels of Locust Grove essentially paid for the project,” Rich said. “The cost for the structure alone, which included all of the concrete, roofing, pipe re-aligning, extraction of old railroad materials found underground and labor added up to $96,000. The estimated saved cost from using DOC labor and the donated materials was approximately $50,000.”
“This project helps move downtown forward while preserving the city’s history,” said Mayor Robert Price.
Once the train-viewing structure was completed in the fall of 2013, the second phase of the project, a brick-paved parking lot, began.
“We used pervious pavers at a total cost of $147,000, so the parking lot not only adds additional parking spaces to the Historic Downtown, but also creates a more aesthetically pleasing streetscape for the area and is environmentally conscious in that it requires no stormwater detention,” Rich explained.
The final touches of the train platform project were added with fencing around the platform to provide viewers with a safe train watching environment, additional lighting, as well as landscaping to further add to the attractiveness of downtown.
The benefits of the platform to Locust Grove appear to be numerous.
“Not only does it contribute aesthetically to the Historic Downtown, but the structure provides residents with a safe, open-air venue to enjoy watching trains, have a picnic or birthday party,” Rich enthused. “There are also avid train-watching fans that have been coming to Locust Grove for years to watch trains along the Norfolk Southern Line who now have a place to comfortably enjoy their hobby.”